The ACE programme – has achieved great success in London, Birmingham, and Bristol amongst others and now here in Sheffield. The ACE programme provides tailored environments for the development of cricketers from Afro-Caribbean communities. This includes incorporating talent spotting within schools, providing elite academy access and scholarships, as well as grassroots cricket initiatives.
Since being established in 2020, by Ebony Rainford-Brent and Surrey County Cricket Club, ACE has supported more than 20,000 budding young cricketers.
In 2022, ACE rolled out in Sheffield – in partnership with the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF) – the official community arm of The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) – and Sheffield Caribbean Cricket Club.
ACE in Sheffield currently works with four schools and has engaged with more than 200 young people each week. It has one of the highest number of girls taking part in ACE across the country, with more than 15 from these four schools.
Recently Yorkshire Head Coach Ottis Gibson visited an ACE session at Sheffield Caribbean to find out more about the programme.
Ottis said: “Young people are the future stars of the game. It’s good that the ACE programme can give them the opportunity to help them improve their game and train them up to become elite sportspeople.
“Cricket has given me everything. I come from a very poor family in Barbados. You know I had nothing growing up – cricket gave me a way out. When I look back at where I started and where I am now, I’m very grateful for everything that cricket has provided for me.
“Sport in general is a very powerful tool if used in the right way.”
Amelia, one of the participants at the ACE programme in Sheffield, said: “I love coming to Sheffield Caribbean and playing cricket because it’s a good opportunity to play cricket, make loads of friends and have fun.”
A key element of ACE is also about developing coaches and Andre Jackson, one of the lead ACE development officers in Sheffield, has completed his Level 2 cricket coaching qualification through the programme.
Andre said: “Through the coaching qualification I’ve learnt a lot of new skills and coaching tools which I can use to help develop players and improve their games individually according to their needs at the hub sessions.
“There is the phrase – ‘you can’t be what you can’t see,’ and I firmly believe in this saying! The more these kids see me as a role model the more they will be inspired to do well in the sport and try go to the highest level.”
Milton Samuels, Cricket Manager and one of the founders at Sheffield Caribbean, said: “I feel that we have to get out there, and support more Black coaches and more Black players into the game. And if we don’t do that the game will die.
“That’ why I love this ACE programme because it’s about getting the kids started in the game, getting them to see us as their role models, and hopefully make it as far as they can in the future.”
At YCCC we are committed to doing more to encourage uptake of the sport amongst those of African and Caribbean heritage at every level to deliver on our goal of achieving true representation at YCCC and throughout the game as a whole.