A STREET cricket hub is thriving in Weymouth as part of the national Chance To Shine initiative.

Chance to Shine helps children from all backgrounds, particularly under-privileged ones, to participate in cricket for free, with Weymouth sessions held at Weymouth College.

Budding young cricketers can benefit from the expert tutelage of ECB coach Sean Fitzgerald, while the Dorset Cricket Board’s James Mitchell and Weymouth skipper Harry Mitchell are also involved.

Sessions are run on Wednesdays from 4.30pm for seven to 14-year-olds after half-term.

Speaking to Echosport, James Mitchell felt Weymouth was an obvious candidate to become one of four such hubs in the county.

He said: “Chance To Shine is about removing the barriers to cricket participation, especially in urban or socially disadvantaged areas.

“They provide funding to put these cricket clubs on – it’s completely free for the kids. We eventually train them up and we have leagues and competitive games.

“We’ve got funding for four clubs and we started one in Bournemouth, then one in Poole and I thought Weymouth would be a good place, although it’s not a city.

“It was an opportune place to do it, so we put it on and got 18 kids in the first session. We work quite a lot with schools so we’ve got the word out there.

“Hopefully it will keep growing and we can transition kids into local cricket clubs.”

He added: “With cricket, you’ve got the cost factor, the transport factor and often parents can’t take kids to the local cricket club.

“Across the country 50 per cent of us live in cities but 80 per cent of cricket clubs are outside cities so that transport factor is really critical. We provide all the kit and games are fun and friendly. That’s the vibe.

“The kids are pretty raw but after a few months they’re bowling with a straight arm, enjoying it, understand the rules and we’re actually playing mini games.

“Some of the kids have then gone into Weymouth Cricket Club, which is great.”

Elaborating on the sessions, Mitchell said: “We split (the session) from 4.30pm to 5.15pm when we have the seven to 10-year-olds – I think 45 minutes is a good amount of time for them.

“The older ones come at 5pm for an hour. Over time we’re looking to split the sessions, so we’ll run it for an hour an a half each, but we just need that critical mass of kids turning up.

“We’ve got funding for two and a half years, so it’s something we want to grow.”

n For more information, contact James Mitchell via james.mitchell@dorsetcricketboard.co.uk


t: 01305 830990

e: neil.walton


twitter: @EchoSportNeil