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With many of the Middlesex boroughs sat within densely populated areas of inner London, finding space to play cricket is a constant challenge for the club’s participation team! With open grass acreage at a real premium and fewer green spaces to play on than ever before, here’s a story of how the Middlesex Participation team, working in close partnership with Chance to Shine, have found a brilliant solution to this problem – the Middlesex Street Programme!

The Middlesex Chance to Shine Street programme has gone from strength to strength.

This year we have had the greatest number of projects ever - 12 youth sessions, 11 young adults’ sessions, 2 girls’ sessions and 2 Leagues. Middlesex Cricket currently have the most Chance to Shine Street programmes in the country. Throughout the year we’ve engaged with more participants than ever before and continue to provide opportunities to learn and develop through cricket. We’ve taken the game to the people of Middlesex, have engaged with all ages and backgrounds and have worked in an array of really unique places, such as Estates, Youth Centers, Parks, Schools, Car Parks, Mosques, and Temples.

All our Participation Coaches who deliver on the Street Programme have attended training sessions with Street Games which were very beneficial for their own development and help them to develop positive attitudes and build confidence in the young people they coach.

Throughout the year, participants from the Middlesex Street Projects have attended many events for Chance to Shine. Young Adult Participants were invited to take part in a promotional filming day with NatWest, where they met former England Cricketers Andrew Flintoff, Monty Panesar, Charlotte Edwards and Ebony Rainford-Brent. Participants from Middlesex Street Projects took part in Chance to Shine’s annual ‘Challenge the Legends’ match. - a prestigious event and a once in a lifetime opportunity to play against former professional cricketers. We have also supported a workshop in Haringey which delivered cricket, lifestyle and confidence workshops. We had many donor visits to our projects in Tower Hamlets, Kensington and Chelsea as well as a Trustees visit to Camden.

After facing many challenges to find a suitable venue for Tower Hamlets Youth Street where young people could access cricket on a weekly basis, we settled at Stepney Green School, where the new facilities at the site provided adequate space to play the tape-ball version of the game. The school was very receptive to working with the project and allowed us to deliver sessions for Youth and Young Adult programmes.

The Hackney Youth session takes place at North London Muslim Community Centre, where young people have Islamic classes and lessons in the evenings and at weekends. Whilst this provided us with a difficult challenge to find a suitable time to deliver the cricket programme, a solution was found whereby we host our sessions on Saturday afternoons, meaning that children who attend the Islamic School at the weekend can now also enjoy the cricket sessions before and after their classes. The success of this model has seen us roll the same model out for our Harrow Youth project, which we deliver in similar fashion at the Harrow Mosque.

Our Islington Street Project won the NatWest ‘No Boundaries’ Award at the annual Chance to Shine awards. It was great for a Middlesex Project to be recognised for this prestigious national award and we hope that the publicity that our projects received after receiving the award will help encourage and motivate more young people to join our Street Projects and enjoy the game in a way that our Islington participants do. We were fortunate to be visited by the Guardian newspaper, who wrote an article on the Project and gave a glowing endorsement for the difference that it is making for youngsters in the area.

The unfortunate increase in knife crime across London has affected many people in the capital and it has also had a profound impact on the work that the Middlesex Participation Team do.

The fatal stabbing of a young man who was a former member of the Queens Crescent Community Association (QCCA) youth club in Camden had by far the biggest impact.

This incident happened earlier this year and happened very close to where our Camden Street Sessions take place. Many local children became too scared to go out and their parents too were naturally more cautious and reluctant to send their children out onto the streets. The net result for us was a serious decline in participation numbers for the sessions over the next four months resulting in us having to cancel the sessions. A devastating blow for a Project that had previously done so much good in the area and had formerly won the Chance to Shine Project of the Year award.

Middlesex Cricket embarked upon some close outreach work with the local community, with the local mosques and with the QCCA Youth Club to get the sessions back up and running. We have since spoken to many parents, did mosque visits on Fridays to speak to the general public, visited school assemblies and have seen an increase in the number of Police patrols in the area – all this has helped reassure parents that their children will be safe at the sessions. Thankfully the sessions have re-started on Friday nights, with some of the old participants coming back. We are hopeful that numbers will increase over coming weeks and that we can encourage more new participants to join the sessions.

Thanks to some fantastic work from Khushali Patel, our Harrow Youth Projects have seen plenty of girl participants who have attended the cricket coaching sessions regularly. Khush has done some fantastic work with them in developing their cricket skills alongside their confidence. All the girls in the project will be going to Coventry for a girl’s national festival organised by Chance to Shine for all girls’ projects across the country.

The Brent street sessions had their highs and lows in the previous year including challenges around the suitability of where and when the sessions were held. A change in location for the youth sessions to Newman Catholic College means that we can engage the children straight after school finishes – this has seen plenty of new participants join the sessions and has seen number increase.

The Brent Youth session will represent Middlesex in the Chance to Shine Street Regional Competition in July 2019. Most participants from the Young Adults session, which was previously held at Willesden Sports Centre, have moved onto University and into work – making is difficult for us to find an appropriate time to engage them. A new partnership with Young Roots to engage new participants and a change in venue have ensured that we are able to keep the session running efficiently to continue to provide opportunities for young people in the area. The opportunity to play in the Middlesex Mavericks for those Young Adults is key for their continuous involvement in the game.

Our partnership with Chelsea Foundation and Fulham Foundation added great value to the Projects and due to the flexibility of the projects we were able to run the Kensington and Chelsea Project and Hammersmith and Fulham Project very differently to how we’ve done previously. This has helped attract new people to the game and has given us a blueprint for how to run competitions in a similar manner moving forwards.

Our leagues have been an enormous success this year and we’ll be continuing the good work in October when the league resumes. The winners from the league participated in the Regional Competition and one team will represent Middlesex in the C2S Street YA National Competition at Lords on 2nd

Middlesex’s multi award-winning Street Project has been an unbelievable success since launching and it continues to go from Strength to Strength. It has had an array of very unique challenges to overcome, although these just seem to make the projects evolve and improve.

The club is extremely proud of all that Middlesex Street continues to do for both youngsters and young adults within the county and we look forward to more success moving forwards.

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