Legendary West Indian fast bowler Courtney Walsh joined youngsters for a street cricket session at the Westway Centre in West London.
Courtney Walsh, an Ambassador of the Jamaica Tourist Board and in London to promote a new sports strategy for the Caribbean island, took part in the session to promote StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports.
The three-year StreetChance programme was launched in July 2008 and is initially being delivered across 10 London boroughs, using cricket to engage young people from a range of backgrounds in areas affected by youth crime and anti-social behaviour.
It is a partnership between Chance to shine, Barclays Spaces for Sports, Cricket for Change, the Metropolitan Police Service and Positive Futures; a social inclusion project funded mainly by the Home Office.
Courtney’s visit to London follows a national roadshow tour which has included appearances and demonstrations at various state schools across the UK to highlight cricket and sport in Jamaica. Courtney is the very epitome of Jamaican sporting prowess, achieving 519 test wickets during his illustrious career and is very keen to pass on his experiences, his determination and his love of his home to sport enthusiasts within the UK.
He gave some tips to youngsters who were playing Street 20 cricket, a fast-paced version of the game requiring minimal equipment with everyone getting a chance to bat, bowl and field. It uses a tennis ball bound with tape to replicate a cricket ball.
This form of cricket is already played in Jamaica and Courtney Walsh said: “I think it’s great that young people who have maybe not played cricket before can be introduced to the game in this easy to play version. Cricket changed my life and continues to change lives in this country and in Jamaica, so it is important that children have an easy route into the game.”
Joining Courtney was former England fast bowler Devon Malcolm, who said: “With cricket attracting a new audience through Twenty20, it’s important the game can build on that - in particular, giving an opportunity to youngsters to play the game in built-up areas, including those at risk from crime and anti-social behaviour.”
StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports will aim, in the first year, to involve 5,000 young people in and out of school time across London.
The in-school activity, based on the Cricket Foundation’s Chance to shine model, provides 20 hours of professional cricket coaching and competition during the summer term. Out of school hours, young people from schools and the local community will take part in a three-hour cricket session every week for 40 weeks each year.
In addition to the core programme, local Positive Futures teams will run self-development projects, with support from school liaison officers, to re-enforce messages about social exclusion, gang membership, drug and alcohol misuse, possession of weapons and remaining in education.
For more information visit www.streetchance.co.uk