7 November 2023
At Berkhamsted, serving others is not just a value that we promote on our notice boards or talk about during our open days. Serving others is a value at the forefront of everything our pupils do, even in sports matches. This summer, our cricket players took to the field to enjoy a gratifying cricket match with the ACE Programme Charity, an organisation that works to remedy the decline of black British professional cricket players in the UK.
Black players make up just 1% of players in UK recreational cricket. In response, Ebony Rainford-Brent (MBE), the first black woman to play for England and a double World Cup winner, wanted to establish a programme that would encourage more black youths to participate in cricket. The result was the ACE programme Charity, a now independent charity ran by Ebony that has gained nationwide recognition.
While considering how Berkhamsted’s sports department could work to support more charities, Physical Education Teacher and Head of Girls Cricket, Mark Costin, decided to partner with the ACE Programme Charity to share our incredible sports facilities with ACE players. “Last year, I had the idea to ask the ACE Programme if Berkhamsted could help make a difference. I suggested that we play against their teams and host them in a residential training camp, basically giving our facilities over to them to do our little bit to help” Mark explains.
Since then, Berkhamsted has hosted ACE in a variety of cricketing events and fixtures on our grounds. This allows ACE players to enjoy the fantastic sports facilities our school offers while providing Berkhamsted pupils with another valuable opportunity to serve others. Not only does this help young black cricket players hone their skills, but it also allows Berkhamsted’s pupils to socialise with and learn from other talented cricket players from across the country.
This summer, fifteen players and five members of staff from the ACE Programme came to Berkhamsted to enjoy a week-long residential training camp while staying in our boarding houses and enjoying full access to Berkhamsted’s facilities. The week was made even more exciting as Courtney Walsh, a legend of cricket, served as a coach!
But Berkhamsted’s efforts to support ACE do not end with offering the charity a match on our grounds. In the long term, Mark Costin hopes to utilise the partnership to inspire ACE players to come to school at Berkhamsted through standard admission routes, as well as through our Scholarship and Bursary avenues. “I hope that some of the ACE players who joined us over the summer will see Berkhamsted as a place where an aspiring cricketer can flourish. During the residential camp, some of the ACE players asked me and their coaching staff about going to school here, so impressed were they with the school and how we welcomed them” says Mark.
Until then, Berkhamsted will continue to work alongside the ACE programme to foster cricket talent and share our wonderful sports facilities while allowing our pupils to remember the importance of serving others.
During the summer of 2024, Berkhamsted’s Girls 1st XI will play ACE Girls XI during our Cricket Week and the Boys 1st XI will host their Boys XI during our T20 Day. We can’t wait for these matches and to continue growing our relationship with this important charity.
To find out more about the ACE Programme Charity, click the link below:
The Ace Programme Charity – Supporting Diverse Talent from the Grassroots to the Elite
*Statistics via The ACE Programme Charity*