JERSEY Cricket's well established "Coaching in Schools Programme" has welcomed the signing of a new three year sponsorship deal with the Ana Leaf Foundation.

The programme, which was first established in 1997 (pre ICC), has introduced the sport to several thousands of primary and early secondary school pupils over this time.

This is a significant part of the sport's development programme open to some 32 schools in Jersey as well as after school cricket clubs and runs specifically to introduce children from Year three (age 7/8) up to Year eight (age 12/13) to cricket.

The sponsorship covers the cost of equipment and two qualified development cricket coaches - Lee Meloy and Gemma Dunning who offer four or five session blocks to each school.

"It's all about providing opportunities to those children who might not necessarily have had access to the game," said Chris Minty, Jersey Cricket's Chief Executive Officer. "It has proved to be the best vehicle for grass roots cricket development in Jersey providing cricket to more than 1,500 children every year."

"So far this year we have visited up to two year groups in 14 schools providing four or five week blocks of cricket and in doing so we have reached over 850 children. In addition 12 schools have run after school clubs for girls with attendance in excess of 180 girls. The second half of the Summer term will involve other schools on the island," he said.

Jersey Cricket works closely with the Education Authority, and directly with the schools. Last year a second development coach joined the programme which has enabled even more young people to learn about the game and how they can access cricket clubs to continue to play outside of school.

"The programme has a really positive effect on young people - embodying all the qualities that cricket requires such as good behaviour, sportsmanship and discipline.

"A development pathway is opened up for those who wish to continue playing cricket - this is the first step and is followed by the schools playing Kwik Cricket and then on to hardball cricket," said Mr Minty. Continued over./

Hayley de Putron a trustee of the Ana Leaf Foundation said that this programme is excellent and one that they are very proud to support.

"All children should be given the chance to play cricket in some shape or form. There is a wealth of talent and skill amongst the youth of the island.

"The Ana Leaf Foundation aims to provide opportunities for young people that they might not usually have the chance to experience and this is a prime example," she said.

The Coaching in Schools programme is available to all schools from January each year through to the summer term and there is also an annual Summer School which takes place during July and August.