Yesterday, Surrey County Cricket Club united with the ACE Programme, Surrey Cricket Foundation and Chance to Shine to give young cricketers a special Black History Month themed tour of The Kia Oval.
The tour was hosted by ACE Director of Programme’s Chevy Green and took in areas of The Kia Oval where black players and black achievement are celebrated.
The youngsters present were also treated to special guest appearances by Surrey legend Monte Lynch and Chance to Shine ambassador, and current Northamptonshire batter, Emilio Gay.
The children delighted in hearing stories of Monte’s career 18,000 runs and how he played for England in a series of One Day International’s. At one-point impromptu chants of ‘Monte’ broke out in the corridors of the Pavilion as Chevy sent them on a mission to find pictures of the great man.
Those same kids sat enthralled moments later as promising 22-year-old English cricketer Emilio Gay spoke of his upbringing, his switch from right- to left-handed batting and how he has his eyes on a Test debut in the not-so-distant future.
Clearly impressed by speaking to a current professional cricketer with international aspirations, the children all asked his advice on how they could replicate his path to success. His advice was simple: “work hard!”
The event was held alongside the Chance to Shine half-term Street Cricket competition, and youngsters were able to take the lessons they learnt about players such as Ebony Rainford-Brent, Sylvester Clarke and Mark Butcher and immediately put them into practice in the nets for an indoor cricket knockout tournament.
A competitive under-12’s tournament was ultimately won by the representatives from Croydon, with the ACE Programme’s team coming in as runner’s up.
The ACE Programme weren’t to be denied in the under-15’s tournament however, beating the Wandsworth street team into second place.
Of an incredible day at The Kia Oval, Chevy Green said: “Today was a great day. I’m proud that I was able to play a little part in telling the stories of some of the amazing black players that have made their mark at The Oval.
“Visibility is important, and I hope we have inspired the young people to follow their dreams of playing cricket.”
Rohan Randhawa, Inclusive Programmes Manager at Chance to Shine said: “It was inspiring to see young people right at the start of their cricketing journeys learning about the integral part that the black community has played in the history of this sport. We were delighted to join our partners at the Surrey Foundation and ACE on the day and together, we will continue to strive to ensure that cricket is a game for everyone.”
Chris Coleman, Director of Cricket Participation at Surrey Cricket Foundation said: “I was really happy to see the Foundation join forces with the ACE Programme and Chance to Shine to deliver something so meaningful.
“The black community has made such an incredible contribution to our sport and it’s important to constantly find ways to tell those stories and introduce them to younger generations.”
To learn more about the Surrey Cricket Foundation click here
To learn more about Chance to Shine click here
To learn more about the ACE Programme click here