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28 Nov

YCF partners with ACE to create opportunities in cricket

Young Black people in Yorkshire will be given the chance to become professional cricketers thanks to a new partnership between Yorkshire Cricket, the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club and ACE – an independent charity to tackle a decline in involvement in English cricket from members of the Black community.

Former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, now a commentator for Sky Sports and the BBC, is Chair of the African Caribbean Engagement (ACE) programme which was originally setup by Surrey CCC in 2019 and provides talent pathways for young Black players through quality coaching sessions.

It was launched in response to a decline of Black British professional players by 75 per cent in recent years. Black cricketers also make up less than one per cent of recreational players.

Yorkshire Cricket’s association with ACE, is officially launched today, Monday 28, November, 2022, by the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF) – the official charity of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) – with Sheffield being the first city in the North to support the ACE programme.

“We hope the programme can inspire a new generation of children and young people from the Black community in Sheffield to take up the game and reconnect our culture with cricket.” – Jaime Newell, Ace Operations Manager.

The programme will be led by Andre Jackson, the new Ace Development officer for YCF, in partnership with the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club, based at the Common in Ecclesfield, alongside a number of local schools and community groups.

Read more: BLOG: Des Smith on Caribbean Sports Club Journey

Andre said: “The team at ACE are doing brilliant work creating opportunities for young people from Black communities to play cricket and develop their talent.

“After seeing the early impact in Surrey and also in south London, Bristol and Birmingham, I am delighted to be helping ACE to increase access to cricket in the region, alongside the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation.

“It is vital that targeted opportunities and support is provided to every young cricketer so they can reach their full potential.

“In my role I want to help young Black cricketers to be passionate about cricket and have that love for the game because that’s what my coaches gave to me, and I still have that passion today.”

The ACE programme in Sheffield is in partnership with the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club, based at the Common in Ecclesfield.

Kendal James, the Participation Manager for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, said: “We’re immensely proud to be supporting the ACE Programme and helping them expand into Yorkshire.

“We are excited to launch the programme in Sheffield and look forward to working closely with ACE and Sheffield Caribbean Sports club over the coming years.

“The opportunities this will generate for young people at grass roots level from Black communities will be invaluable both on and off the pitch.

“We want to play our part in empowering and inspiring a new generation of players to be involved in this beautiful game by providing pathways to support young, talented cricketers.”

Now an independent charity ACE aims to engage children and young people in both the recreational game and talent pathways.

Pictured, Jaime Newell, who is the Ace Operations Manager.

Jaime Newell, Ace Operations Manager, said: “We’re extremely happy to see the programme expand nationally, with Sheffield being the first city in the north to launch their programme.

“I can’t thank YCF, YCCC and Sheffield Caribbean CC enough for all their efforts in getting the project up and running.

“Our new Sheffield cricket development officer, Andre, brings a wealth of knowledge of the local community and a deep understanding of the African Caribbean community’s barriers on and off the pitch.

“We hope the programme can inspire a new generation of children and young people from the black community in Sheffield to take up the game and reconnect our culture with cricket.”

In 2021, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) worked with the ACE programme to successfully expand to Birmingham and Bristol, the latter with support from Royal London.

Pictured, a group of young girls enjoy a special community day organised by ACE at Whitgift School, London.

Alongside this expansion in Sheffield, financial support from ECB will be used to support ACE to expand into Nottingham and Manchester and more London Boroughs, developing grassroots cricket and talent identification systems in these areas.

Clare Connor, Interim CEO of the ECB, said: “The work that ACE have done to date is truly inspiring and we are thrilled to be supporting their continued expansion.

“This new funding is ensuring more young people from Black communities in Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester have the opportunity to play and hopefully thrive in our game. Work like this is vital in ensuring we make cricket a game for everyone.”

The scheme has so far engaged over 6,000 young cricketers in London, Bristol and Birmingham, as well as putting players forward for over 200 trials, which have led to a total of 109 scholarships for talented young players in the ACE National Academy.

More than 10,000 young cricketers are expected to pass through ACE’s talent ID programme each year in the new areas while over 40,000 children are due to participate in ACE school schemes annually.

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