To celebrate Black History Month, we are taking a look at those within Middlesex Cricket that are making a difference today to create tomorrow’s history.
Throughout the month, we have heard from members of our Participation Team who are out there making a positive change within our local communities.
To finish off this three-part series, we spoke to one of our participation coaches, Mikey Thompson.
Mikey Thompson has been making a difference in communities across Middlesex for over 30 years.
During this time, there aren’t many areas – if any – that Mikey hasn’t touched, working across a whole range of programmes from schools’ to women’s cricket.
The 59-year-old was one of the pioneers of street cricket in Britain having seen it during a tour to the Caribbean with the England blind cricket team.
Speaking of the experience, Mikey said: “I was on tour with the England blind cricket team in Barbados. I went and watched tape-ball cricket and knew that I had to bring it back to the UK.
“I used to get a group of boys together in the middle of winter and play tape-ball cricket under the lights. From there, there were a few conversations and we rolled it out from there, going from strength-to-strength.”
Street Cricket has continued to grow and according to the Chance to Shine Impact Report, which was published earlier this year, there were 197 projects in 2021-22 across the country, with 82% of participants from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Almost two-thirds of participants came from the top 30% of the country’s most deprived areas.
The game is played by two teams of six people using a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape, with each innings lasting 20 balls. In essence, it is cricket’s answer to five-a-side football.
“I’m really proud of it and how it managed to spread all over the world,” says Mikey of the impact that street cricket has had since Chance to Shine Street (formerly known as StreetChance) was launched in 2008.
Just by speaking to Mikey, his passion and enthusiasm for the game and inspiring others shines through. “The best bit about my job is empowering people, especially young African-Caribbean kids,” he said.
“My duty is to go into a particular setting and bring joy to the faces of children as they take something away from my lesson. I often use cricket as a topic, but ask the kids how can we uplift people through sport.
“I can’t even walk down the street without people shouting my name and they dub me as ‘The King’, so I hope King Charles doesn’t get upset about that! It doesn’t matter who they are, I love to bring joy to those in my area.”
The main focus of his job is to deliver cricket in primary schools across the Islington and Haringey boroughs, two of London’s most disadvantaged areas.
Mikey believes that coaches have a much bigger role to play that just coach the sport of cricket, but to use it as an educational tool. He often uses cricket to apply it to other parts of the curriculum during lessons which we are told that teachers love.
Imparting wisdom on young people, Mikey says that he tells his students: “You might not know anything when you walk in, but as you leave you’ll know something, If you have learnt something then I’ll get you to teach them that thing, whether it be year one, two or three in the playground.”
One child that stands out in his mind, is Stefan McKenzie. If you have been following the series, you will recognise the name as he featured in the opening piece. Stefan is the Club’s Disability Development Officer.
“I went to Stefan’s school and he reminded me of the way I was when I was growing up – tall, skinny and loved the game of cricket,” Mikey said.
“I remember watching him and saying to his teacher ‘look, this kid has something about him’. I was working for London Community Cricket Association (LCCA) at the time.
“He’s gone from strength-to-strength and I almost see him like a son because I see myself in him.
“When I came back from working in Jamaica to see him working as a Disability Development Officer at Middlesex and for them to be giving him something was surreal.
“I like him very much and I know he’s going to get stronger in his job. The stronger he gets, the happier I will be.”
Another one that stands out is Garfield Struthers, who is now a colleague working as an ACE Development Officer. He spoke to us last week in the second piece.
“I used to coach Garfield when I was a coach at the Hackney Community College,” Mikey explained. Myself and a few others put so much work in and whenever we see young people come through and become something and a force to be reckoned with in the community, it’s great.”
The best piece of advice Mikey was given, was: “Be yourself, make sure you have a smile on your face and make sure your kids enjoy it.” This is sound advice for anyone who is new to coaching or is wanting to get involved at any level.
Take a look at Mikey in action by watching the video below.
CREATING TOMORROW'S HISTORY SERIES: