The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation launched last month, and we are very excited by the opportunities this brings for us to deliver our community and cricket for good programmes to more people across the county to get active, help with mental wellbeing, and provide the opportunities cricket has to offer.
One such programme we are delivering is ACE and with the support of Royal London, we are thrilled to have launched our second ACE community hub on Wednesdays in Lockleaze, Bristol, at St. Trinity’s School. Almost 20 girls and boys of varying ages from the community arrived to take part, bringing with them their parents and carers, who watched with big smiles as the participants got stuck into the session.
England players inspire
Thanks to their partnership with the ECB, Royal London kindly arranged for the young people to have a surprise visit from England international players Dom Sibley and brothers Tom and Sam Curran, who engaged with the participants in the various games and exercises, answered questions and provided hints and tips.
Omar, aged 10, a participant at ACE said:
“I never thought I would be coached by players like Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Dom Sibley. They were really good at showing me the basics. I like coming to ACE because cricket is a fun team sport; everyone gets involved. It’s really inclusive.”
The highlight for the participants was to get a chance to bowl at their cricketing heroes, which took everyone to the next level of excitement and determination. When the session had ended, the players stayed behind a little longer to have their pictures taken with the children and sign autographs, generating massive grins on their faces.
The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation are hugely grateful to the international players for giving up their time and travelling all the way to Bristol. We would also like to thank Royal London, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and The ACE Programme Charity for giving the participants a cricketing experience they’ll never forget.
Susie Logan, Chief Marketing Officer at Royal London says:
“Royal London is proud of the partnership with ACE and it is exciting to see the programme making great progress at grassroots level to inspire the younger generation and break down barriers across sport and wider society. We look forward to supporting ACE as they continue to build on the success of the community hub in Bristol and we were delighted to arrange with the ECB for England international players to attend the session and help young people with their cricket skills.”
Reconnecting cricket with the Black community
The ACE Programme Charity was launched in 2020 to engage young people from African and Caribbean communities. It aims to ‘Support Diverse Talent from the Grassroots to the Elite’, while providing a wider impact on the community through cricket. The programme offers a clear pathway for young people to engage with the game of cricket right in the heart of their communities.
ACE stands for ‘African Caribbean Engagement’ and aims to inspire the wider game to reconnect with the Black community. The African and Caribbean community in Bristol has a rich history of cricket, but less than 1% of Black British players are taking part in the recreational game across England and Wales.
With support from Royal London, Bristol is the third city, after London and Birmingham, to deliver ACE through the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation in partnership with the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club and the ECB.
Steve Silk, Chief Executive Officer at the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation says:
“The ACE Programme Charity aligns with our values here at the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation, where we aim to create a fun and inclusive cricket environment where all people can fulfil their cricketing potential. Having a programme that re-ignites a community’s passion for cricket and gives aspiration to young people in their communities is very powerful and I’m excited by the possibilities the programme has to offer.”
From grassroots to the elite
In Bristol, young people of any background can engage with cricket through ACE right in their community starting at school, where the pathway begins. Having enjoyed their sessions at school, keen and would-be young cricketers can go on to enjoy the game further at an ACE community hub, where sessions are free and open to anyone of any ability aged 7 to 15 years old. Here participants take part in fun and safe softball cricket sessions, delivered by qualified coaches, where they develop not only cricket skills, but life skills the game offers, such as teamwork and leadership, as well as gaining all the benefits being active brings.
Theo Gordon, ACE Development Officer for Bristol, has built the necessary relationships for participants to continue their journey on the pathway to develop their cricket skills. This involves going onto playing hardball cricket at a recreational cricket club, to help identify talent and move to the ACE Academy scholarship programme in Bristol, which Theo heads up. The ACE Academy provides scholars opportunities to access the performance pathway to county cricket, and who knows, maybe even an international career.
Theo Gordon, ACE Development Officer for Bristol says:
“It’s great to be delivering the ACE programme in Bristol. It allows me to connect with young people in their communities and shows them cricket is a game for everyone, and with the right support, who knows where it can take you. Having the England players come along to the community session has had a huge positive impact on the children and I’m confident most will take the next step on their cricketing journey due to ACE.”
The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation has been taking strides to engage people from all communities and backgrounds throughout the county into cricket. Delivering the ACE programme allows us to grow the game by creating opportunities to develop and provide support to people within communities and clubs.
Find out more about ACE in Bristol, or call Theo on 07939 143 528.
About Royal London
Royal London is the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £153 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 4,075 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2021.