CRICKET has been placed firmly on the front foot in secondary schools throughout Cheshire thanks to increased funding and support from Chance to Shine.
The nationwide schools' coaching programme, which previously targeted mainly primary-aged children, received a massive boost earlier this year when The Cricket Foundation announced it had secured major financial backing from Sport England.

Following the enormous success of its Creating the Future (primary-based) project, Cheshire were the first county board in the country selected to deliver the new secondary initiative, which is already well under way.
More than 50 secondary schools will receive support in 2013, with more set to come on board in the final two years of the three-year programme.
The aim is to increase participation in cricket among 14-18 year olds, and specifically the 14-16 years age group as statistics show players of this age are leaving the game. In an effort to halt this decline and increase migration to clubs, Cheshire Cricket Board will deliver a series of 'community sports club' sessions at the chosen schools, with a focus on 'extra curricular' activity.

Cheshire underlined its renewed commitment to the Chance to Shine programme by recently employing four new members of staff, with former Glamorgan professional Chris Ashling (far left) joining Rick Halkon (left), Toby Mullins (right) and Ben Tomlinson (far right) on the Board.

Chris & Ben join Cheshire Cricket Board ... read Gareth's article

There is also a vastly increased schools competition framework in the county with more matches for boys and girls both indoors and out. Performance and Participation Manager Gavin Colebourn who is responsible for coordinating the delivery of the scheme in Cheshire, is excited about the future prospects.
He said: "Chance to Shine is a superb initiative with a proven track record of engaging young people in sport and encouraging them to pursue their passion beyond the school gates.
"We are still heavily involved in delivering the 'Creating the Future' programme, but this new secondary scheme will prove a timely and muchneeded kick for the teenage market.
"We have done a player survey and all the figures suggest there is an increasing 'drop off' among young people aged 14-16, and we are doing all that we can in Cheshire to address this.
"The ECB recognise this as a major issue affecting clubs, and are fully behind Chance to Shine and the fantastic package they offer."

Gavin added: "I am proud of the work our Development and Coaching Officers do on the Chance to Shine programme and we look forward to being a major driving force in the next phase of delivery.
"The CCB staff are excited by this new venture and the opportunity to develop young people's transferable skills using cricket as the tool.
"Coaching in schools is just the start of the pathway and we are very keen to develop various exit routes depending on individuals needs and interests."

In addition to the community coaching sessions, Cheshire have committed to delivering more than 30 Cricket Young Leaders Courses this year, with an anticipated 350 candidates.
Each young leader will receive mentoring support from Cheshire staff to increase their opportunities to both play and volunteer within the game.