England duo Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan have become the latest players to sign up as ambassadors for the ACE Programme – a charity that aims to support diverse cricketing talent from the grassroots to the elite.
Archer and Jordan, currently in South Africa preparing for England’s white ball series in Cape Town and Paarl, join England Women’s all-rounder Sophia Dunkley and former stars including Mark Butcher and Alex Tudor in backing the programme, which was recently funded by Sport England for the next three years.
The ACE Programme Charity was originally setup by Surrey County Cricket Club 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 young players, including a game at the Kia Oval alongside members of Surrey’s Emerging Players Programme.
One young player graduated from ACE to feature in matches for Surrey U18s. It is chaired by Ebony Rainford-Brent, a broadcaster, Surrey CCC board member and the first Black woman to play for England.
As well as Archer and Jordan, the ACE Programme Charity is championed and supported by its four recently 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.
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.
Speaking from South Africa, Jofra Archer said: “Well done to Ebz for getting ACE up and running! I’m looking forward to playing my part in encouraging as many kids as possible to get involved in cricket.”
Chris Jordan added: “I’m really proud to be an ambassador for the ACE Programme. I think it’s an amazing initiative and I hope I can play my part in getting as many kids involved in our sport as possible.”
Ebony Rainford-Brent concluded: “As we look to grow the ACE Programme and accelerate change in cricket, I’d like to thank Jofra and CJ for supporting our work. It’s really important for young players to have role models to aspire to – and with Jofra, Chris and Sophia as ACE ambassadors, it’s very clear what’s possible. We now need to ensure that we create as many opportunities as we can to give young, diverse talent the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.”