Scotland’s Michael Leask hopes a new cricket initiative in north-east schools can help unearth future internationals.
The Aberdonian all-rounder and his Scotland colleague Craig Wallace were at Clerkhill Primary School in Peterhead yesterday at the launch of a new partnership between Cricket Scotland and charity Chance to Shine.
Chance to Shine has been operating in England and Wales since 2005 and provides cricket sessions for children in schools and communities where they may not otherwise have the opportunity to play the game.
This is the first time Chance to Shine have taken their programmes to Scotland.
This term as a result of their partnership with Cricket Scotland and financial support from Donald Russell they will be in at least 18 schools in Aberdeen, Peterhead and Fraserburgh.
Finding the talent of the future
Leask, who has played for Scotland at two World Cups and hopes to do so again later this year, is impressed by the scheme.
The 30-year-old said: “I’ve always been a big fan of getting into schools because it’s where you learn.
“It’s where I started playing cricket, it’s where Craig started, it’s where everyone starts really unless you’re a late bloomer.
“This idea is great to get into the schools and get the enthusiasm for cricket up.
“Everyone knows that football is hard to overtake, but when you can do something to get kids having fun and enjoying cricket it’s a good thing.
“There are talented kids everywhere, it’s just about trying to find them.
“There are future Scotland internationals all over the country, it’s just about finding them.
“And it’s programmes like this in schools that will allow you to find them and get them involved in the game early.
“It was great to be in Peterhead and it’s going to be in more schools across the north-east.
“You never know where you might find the next Kyle Coetzer or Craig Wallace.”
Making cricket fun
Wicketkeeper Wallace echoed those sentiments and added: “It was really good to see the kids being enthusiastic and enjoying their cricket.
“I was lucky growing up that both my parents played so that led to me playing.
“But if you have kids playing with their friends in school and enjoying it then hopefully that will lead to kids pursuing it and playing for clubs.
“That’s why Chance to Shine is so good because it gets into schools and makes the game fun.
“Hopefully among the kids involved there might be a future Scotland international or two, it would be amazing if that could happen.
“But the most important thing at the moment is getting them enjoying playing and wanting to play cricket.”
Hard work is paying off
Cricket Scotland’s development officer for the north-east, Tony McKenna, has worked hard to pull this pilot programme together and has been pleased to see it come to fruition.
He said: “The whole premise behind Chance to Shine is for kids to learn, play and develop their skills through cricket.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity we’re at six schools in Peterhead, we’re in Fraserburgh as well with between six and nine schools.
“We then start in Aberdeen in a few weeks with another six schools.
“It’s about getting cricket into communities, a lot of the schools we’re working in sit within more deprived areas of Scotland where they don’t get the chance to play cricket.
“We’re lucky that this is the pilot in Scotland, it will happen in other areas as well.
“I’ve worked a lot in the last four or five months to pull it together.
“With everything we’ve been going through with the pandemic it’s been tricky to get into schools, but we’ve been lucky that the schools have been willing to have us in and it’s great to see it in action.”