THE BLOG

School Sport - Giving Children Their Chance to Shine

26/06/2014 11:13 BST | Updated 24/08/2014 10:59 BST

The recent Ofsted report that too many state-school pupils are denied the chance to take part in competitive sport is a worrying trend and a call to action for all of us who care passionately about school sport.

Since 2005, we have introduced over two million children in 10,000 schools to cricket through our charitable 'Chance to Shine' programme, but this new research shows that there is still a lot more work to be done.

The idea behind our programme is simple: link cricket clubs to local primary and secondary schools, pay qualified cricket coaches to deliver cricket sessions and matches in schools, train teachers and encourage children to come and play at cricket clubs.

The Ofsted report talks about a lack of facilities and we believe that linking schools and clubs alongside using external coaches to train teachers is critical to address this issue.

At Chance to Shine we champion the importance of competition in school sport for the vital role it can play in the development of young people.

Life is competitive and young people need to learn at an early age how to win and how to lose graciously. We will all suffer setbacks through our lives and learning how to cope with them it a vital part of education.

We don't believe in winning at all costs by any means and we work with the MCC to promote the Spirit of Cricket message of playing sport in a hard but fair manner.

Through competitive sport, children can also learn key life lessons such as teamwork, leadership and cooperation. These are all skills that will benefit children whether to go on to represent England or go into the working world. We are not about nurturing great sportsmen and women but rather giving them the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.

That is why it was very encouraging to see Sir Michael Wilshaw state that 'the real value of competitive sport is the positive effect it has on education'.

We have seen time and again the positive impact that sport, and cricket in particular, can have on the whole ethos of a school.

Looking at the wider themes of the report, there is no doubt that many private schools do an excellent job at providing sporting provision for their pupils. In my opinion, the point of this debate should be to bring the quality of sport in state schools up rather than using it as an excuse to bash private schools.

As a state school boy from Birmingham who became the first British born Pakistani to play professional cricket in this country I believe passionately that all children, no matter what school they go to should have the opportunity to play and enjoy competitive sport and Chance to Shine continues to work towards this.