Since launching our Ace programme in Sheffield at the end of last year it has been a busy and rewarding start to the initiative.
The programme is a partnership between Yorkshire County Cricket Club, the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club and African Caribbean Engagement (ACE), a charity launched by former England cricketer and pundit Ebony Rainford-Brent to increase the representation of black people within the sport.
Since its launch the ACE Programme in Sheffield is working with four schools in the city and engages with around 200 young children each week and provides fun cricket coaching session for children to learn new cricket skills and to enjoy cricket.
We caught up with Andre Jackson, our ACE development officer for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, as he hopes to follow on the success of iterations in south London, Birmingham and Bristol.
It’s been incredible to be part of the ACE programme launching in Yorkshire around November time last year in partnership with YCF, and the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club.
The aim of ACE is to identify young, talented African and Caribbean players, aged between 10-14 years old, in the communities with a high percentage of African and Caribbean players, because there has been a recognition that the number of African Caribbean people playing cricket at grassroots and progressing into the professional game has declined.
A big milestone for me was delivering our first cricket coaching session at St. Catherine’s Primary School for the Year 5s in December. The ACE programme sessions with the school have engaged with roughly 60 young children teaching them new cricketing skills, which they were all excited to learn how to play the lovely game of cricket.
Liam Mitchell, the Assistant Headteacher for St Catherine’s Primary School, said: “You are doing a great job with those children, and they love working with you.”
This year started well with myself and Kendal delivering the first school assembly about the ACE programme. It was brilliant to present to the school and the Y5’s at Hartley Brook Primary were excited to start playing cricket!
The cricket session went really well and Miss Jones from the school, said: “Y5(Red) absolutely loved trying cricket out that afternoon with ACE. They cannot wait to learn some more skills over this half term.”
And the milestones kept coming in January with the official ‘Ace Sheffield Hub’ opening for the first time in Yorkshire near the end of the month. Initially we started with roughly 11 young people attending the first session and what has been great is that each week the numbers keep increasing and now we currently have more than young people at the hub.
The hub is a mix of boys and girls from all backgrounds and of different abilities, who all want to learn the game of cricket in a safe and fun environment, which is why I think the numbers every week keep increasing.
February has also been a really good month as I was able to complete my Level 2 in cricket coaching, which was a fantastic experience.
I 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.
We often say, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, and I firmly believe in this saying and 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.
What’s coming up next for the ACE programme in Sheffield?
At the end of April the Ace programme goes outdoors at Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club and there will also be a special Windrush Cricket Festival.
Indoors ACE Hub Sessions
Location: Parkwood Academy Sheffield
Time: 17:30pm-19:00pm | Every Fridays
Outdoors ACE Hub Sessions
Location: Caribbean Sports Club (starts 28th April)
Time: 17:30pm-19:00pm | Every Friday
Contact details: [email protected] 07842313798