The ACE Programme became an independent charity on the 30th October 2020 after receiving significant funding from Sport England. The funding, £540,000 delivered over a three-year period, will enable the programme to employ four full time staff and create opportunities for far greater numbers of young people. It will be Chaired by Ebony Rainford-Brent, a broadcaster, Surrey CCC board member and the first Black woman to play for England – who inspired the project’s initial creation earlier this year.
The ACE Programme Charity was originally setup by Surrey earlier this year, aiming to address a 75% decline in cricket participation by members of the Black community. After 70 young players – male and female – attended trials shortly before the lockdown in early March, the programme this summer delivered a coaching and match programme for 25 cricketers, including a forty over game at the Kia Oval alongside members of Surrey’s Emerging Players Programme. One young player has already graduated from ACE to feature in matches for Surrey U18s.
ACE’s strategic aim will be summed up by a new strapline: ‘Supporting Diverse Talent from the Grassroots to the Elite’ and the charity will focus on three main aims:
- Building grassroots programmes, talent pathways and better talent ID within Black communities
- Providing elite academy programmes and scholarships to talented players, allowing them to fulfil their potential
- The development of a diverse coaching and volunteer scheme through targeted training and mentoring programmes
As well as Rainford-Brent, the ACE Programme Charity will be championed and supported by four newly appointed Honorary Patrons: former West Indies fast bowler and now Sky Sports commentator Michael Holding; veteran journalist and broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald; the first Black cricketer to play for England, Roland Butcher and Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis
On top of the Honorary Patrons will be a number of ACE Ambassadors. For the launch these are: England all-rounder Sophia Dunkley; former Surrey and England batsman and Sky Sports commentator Mark Butcher; former Surrey and England fast bowler Alex Tudor and former Surrey player Lonsdale Skinner, who is also current Chair of the African-Caribbean Cricket Association.
In addition to the Sport England funding, the ACE Programme has also received a grant from the England and Wales Cricket Board, allowing a programme to be launched in Birmingham in 2021. This will be delivered in association with Warwickshire County Cricket Club and be overseen by ACE’s first Director of Programmes, Chevy Green – who becomes ACE’s first full time employee.