Cricket’s African Caribbean Engagement Programme (ACE), established by Ebony Rainford-Brent and having already achieved success in London, Birmingham and Bristol, is set to rollout in Yorkshire.
The initiative, which provides tailored environments for the development of cricketers from Black communities, will be inaugurated in Yorkshire in 2022, after a funding model was agreed between ACE, the England and Wales Cricket Board and Yorkshire CCC.
Over 2,500 young local cricketers are expected to pass through ACE’s Talent ID programme each year with over 10,000 school children from Sheffield and Leeds due to participate in ACE school schemes annually, with sessions due to launch in both primary and secondary schools across the county.
Former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, now a commentator on Sky Sports and the BBC, is Chair of the ACE Programme which was originally setup by Surrey CCC in 2019 before becoming an independent charity in late 2020 after receiving £540,000 in funding from Sport England. ACE then formed a partnership with Royal London, allowing it to launch in Bristol.
That financial support has allowed ACE to so far engage over 6,000 young cricketers in London, Bristol and Birmingham, as well as handing out over 200 trials, which have led to a total of 109 scholarships for talented young players in the ACE National Academy.
“When we started ACE, we always had ambitions to launch programmes with counties in the north of the country”, said Rainford-Brent. “We are really excited to start ACE in Leeds and Sheffield, two great cities where we’re confident we can make an immediate impact.
“ACE is focused on connecting the dots to help under-represented groups from the grassroots to the elite. We know this programme will help open up new pathways to do exactly that and are excited to partner with the team at Yorkshire to make a difference in Leeds and Sheffield.
“We’re really grateful to the ECB for this meaningful support, allowing us to build on our initial backing from Sport England and start taking ACE to the next level – a truly national organisation.”
The ACE initiative incorporates talent spotting within schools, followed by trials and the awarding of scholarships to support endeavours to breakthrough into the professional game.
Lord Kamlesh Patel, Chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club said: “We are delighted that the ACE Programme has come to two major cities in Yorkshire.
“Leeds and Sheffield have historically produced some fantastic cricketers, however, this is a truly exciting opportunity to identify and develop talent from Black communities in these cities.”
Clare Connor, Managing Director of England Women’s Cricket, added: “The team at ACE are doing brilliant work creating opportunities for young people from Black communities to play cricket and develop their talent. After their early impact in south London, Bristol and Birmingham, we are really excited to be helping ACE to increase access to cricket in Leeds and other urban centres across the country. We know that targeted opportunities and support are vitally important in making cricket a game for everyone and ensuring that every young cricketer can fulfil their potential.”