Change of Pace for young ethnic talent - EasternEye

Change of Pace for young ethnic talent

New scheme will tackle ‘unconscious bias’ and lack of opportunity for BAME youngsters, says cricket coach

A NEW initiative tacking inequality in cricket, delivering a holistic mentoring programme to children, will be launched in January 2021 by Croydon-based coach and digital marketing consultant, Trevor Fordyce.

PACE (Partnership Achieving Cricket Equality) driven by Trevor’s not-for-profit includes coaching and supports development in related roles such captaincy and umpiring.

“Cricket has a history of elitism which PACE wants to change. We plan to break down barriers and help equalise the field, making cricket more accessible and inclusive by supporting members from all walks of life, irrespective of skin colour, culture, gender or wealth,” says Trevor Fordyce, who has been a qualified coach for more than six years.

Under the PACE initiative, launching on 30 January 2021, local schools will be registered through outreach to develop a network of afterschool clubs and training Hubs. Trevor Fordyce wants to reflect the quality of coaching and opportunity in independent schools, for students in state schools, “The more people who play, the more opportunity for matches and the better the competition – that’s what cricket is all about.”

He welcomes the announcement last week that the Surrey’s Ace Programme will launch as a new independent charity to create opportunities for black talent to access the game, but worries that more exposure is required. Though the ECB’s South Asian Action plan launched in 2018 is a ‘fantastic’ initiative, Fordyce said, he heard about it just three months ago. His opinion is that more needs to be done to address the Asian audience and get clubs involved on a localised level.

“There is a clear divide between opportunity in the leafy middle-class area of Purley in Croydon and the more inner-city areas of Norbury and Thornton Heath for example, where especially state school children lack exposure, confidence and support from an institution. I am a firm believer that unconscious bias, under-investment and a distinct lack of active role models in prominent positions is driving minorities away from Cricket in the UK, where there is a fundamental, often hereditary passion for the sport,” says Fordyce, whose amateur career started as a minority black youth at the 300-year-old Mitcham Cricket Club.

“For the last five years I’ve observed the colt’s Surrey trials in Guildford for varying age-groups and there is a clear majority of white youth in attendance. From a talent perspective, there need to be greater awareness of these trials to engage a more diverse profile of candidates. The trials cover Surrey and South London where there is a significant south Asian community actively playing cricket in parks and cages. Unconscious bias will not go away immediately but through the PACE initiative we aim to identify, nurture and support BAME talent. We want to have a Surrey County team with more players from diverse backgrounds for our youth to aspire to.”

From a working-class background himself, it was extremely difficult for him to follow his dream to become a professional cricketer. So, he learnt the hard way that ‘funding’ is also important to develop a cricketer from a minority background.

PACE drive will help kids in this regard, by providing accessories and affordable payment options. Children from a BAME background may have talent, drive and enthusiasm to take up the game, but they don’t have the facility, kit, guidance and mentorship. Through PACE and my academy, I just want to give them that.”

“What I am today is because of cricket. So, I want to pass on these qualities to the younger generation through the game. I know that in many clubs, players lack confidence. Cricket gives you leadership skills and the assertiveness to adapt, it also improves resilience and team spirit. If kids from a BAME background believe that they can do it, they sure can achieve anything in cricket,” he says.

Fordyce explained, “In 2018 I was umpiring an U13’s match between Purley vs Addiscombe. One player caught my attention because of his positive attitude and will to win. Post-match I identified his father and attempted to poach him to play for Purley. His family were from Chennai, India and left because their son was not getting an opportunity to improve his cricket.

“They ended up in a small flat in Thornton Heath. On a low income, his parents could not afford the annual membership fee to join Purley in 2019 so I negotiated a three-part payment plan with Purley for him to join. I mentored and coached this talented young man and at the end of 2019 he won the batting award for the most runs scored.

“In the winter, again money was an issue for them, so I waived my Winter Nets training fee in exchange for the father’s time assisting me coaching the boys. At the end of the 2020 season, the player won the Players Player of the Year Award. This is what PACE is all about, giving talented kids an opportunity irrespective of economics, irrespective of where they live, what they look like or where they come from.”

According to him,“Diversity in cricket needs to reflect diversity in the UK, more BAME talent in the county and England teams will create role models like Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. The PACE initiative aims to create more players, coaches, and admin officials from minority backgrounds”.

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