Cricket Scheme Keeps Youngsters Away from Gangs and Crime
New research on participants of a scheme called StreetChance, carried out on behalf of charity New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), suggests that playing cricket – and other team sports – can help deter young people from committing crimes and joining gangs.
StreetChance is a programme set up in partnership between Barclays Spaces for Sports and the Cricket Foundation, which is responsible for another programme called Chance to Shine, that aims to “educate through cricket”.
The aim of StreetChance is to bring children and young people together from a range of backgrounds and social groups, engaging them in cricket and keeping them off of the streets, as well as offering informal classes on drug abuse, knife crime and gangs. Since the scheme was launched in 2008, almost 40,000 people have been involved with it, helping young people from deprived areas of England from hanging out in the same social groups that might normally lead them into a life of gangs and crime.
The cricket game has even been adapted so it can be played on hard courts or in small areas, where a grass field is not an option. In these instances, a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape takes the place of the hard cricket ball, and games last about 20 minutes long.
As part of the report, 433 StreetChance participants between the ages of eight and 18 were surveyed, and current available research on the benefits of community sports programmes for young people were also reviewed.
Not only did the latest results back the earlier research that suggests that participation in sports can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health, they also indicated that being involved in sports as part of a group or team can boost the self-esteem of shy children, and reduce their social anxiety.
Although the majority of young people who took part in the survey had positive social attitudes, between 10% and 20% felt they were “quite like” or “just like” their peers who were involved in gangs. These young people have been described by the study authors as a “small but significant group who are at risk of committing crime and antisocial behaviour”.
The conclusion was that schemes like StreetChance are offering an alternative activity for young people and, therefore, reducing the opportunity and likelihood of them committing offences, and thus brightening their futures.
“It diverts [young people] away from negative influence,” said Richard Joyce, Operations Manager for StreetChance, “and introduces them to positive role models and supportive peers.”