In March 2020, Surrey County Cricket Club launched the African Caribbean Engagement (ACE) Programme offering new opportunities for young African-Caribbean cricketers to enter the Club’s performance pathway.
Targeting 11-18 year old boys and girls with sporting potential, the initiative intends to break down barriers for the local African Caribbean community by providing Level 3 ECB qualified cricket coaching, sports science and personal development education, equipment & travel grants as well as chances to meet inspirational role models from their community.
While the ambition of the programme is to further opportunities for young players to get involved with high quality cricket, there will be no parameters around the number of participants who reach a senior county level.
Two free open days took place on Wednesday 4th and Wednesday 11th March in the Ken Barrington Centre of The Kia Oval. Coaches are now selecting a number of children to participate in a long-term scholarship programme throughout the summer of 2020 supported by Surrey County Cricket Club.
In partnership with Surrey Cricket Foundation, the programme will also support local African-Caribbean clubs in developing a sustainable infrastructure and in building strong links with a range of community schemes.
Former Surrey and England bowler Alex Tudor will unveil the programme alongside founder Ebony Rainford-Brent later this month before next steps for future applicants are announced in due course.
Rainford-Brent, also Surrey’s Director of Women’s Cricket, said: “The A.C.E Programme is something that I am really excited about. There is no doubt that there has been a lack of engagement with the local black community in our sport for some time, but now is an thrilling time to start rebuilding those links.
This programme will be the first of its kind and it is brilliant that we can create tangible opportunities for talented young people to access high quality coaching and support, as well as reduce many of the barriers into cricket for this community. The links that we will build and the partnerships that we will establish will be vital to driving our future vision where we create an even richer history at the Club.
There is no doubt that this vision will take time, however working collaboratively with the community, I have every faith in future success.”
Surrey Chief Executive Richard Gould added: “At Surrey we’re always looking for new ways to be active in our local community that has supported us so strongly through the years. This programme is an excellent opportunity to build a stronger connection with our African-Caribbean neighbours at The Kia Oval and in the wider county and support young players who may otherwise be left behind by the game of cricket.”