Rainford-Brent welcomes ‘significant moment’ as ECB helps ACE programme expand

Ebony Rainford-Brent

The England and Wales Cricket Board will expand its investment in the African-Caribbean Engagement programme to four new locations.

Chaired by Ebony Rainford-Brent, the independent charity was first established by Surrey in 2020 to engage with children and young people from more diverse communities in the south of London.

An expansion to Birmingham and Bristol proved successful last year and now the ECB has committed to helping the programme launch in Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds and an additional London borough.

The governing body is also set to fund a national operations manager role at ACE.

Rainford-Brent, who became the first black women to play for England in 2001, said: “This is a really significant moment for ACE.

“Although we started small in south London, we always envisaged this programme was going to have a big national impact. To be in six cities and on both sides of the Thames in London within two years of existence proves that our model is starting to change the game.

“ACE is focused on connecting the dots to help under-represented groups from the grassroots to the elite. We know this programme will help open up new pathways to do exactly that and are excited to partner with the teams at all these different counties to have an impact.

“We’re really grateful to the ECB for this meaningful support, allowing us to build on our initial backing from Sport England and start taking ACE to the next level – a truly national organisation.”

More than 6,000 opportunities have already been created for young people through ACE’s work.

Over 10,000 young cricketers are expected to pass through the charity’s talent ID programme this year in the new areas.

Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket, added: “The team at ACE are doing brilliant work creating opportunities for young people from Black communities to play cricket and develop their talent.

“After their early impact in south London, Bristol and Birmingham, we are really excited to be helping ACE to increase access to cricket in more urban centres across the country.

“We know that targeted opportunities and support are vitally important in making cricket a game for everyone and ensuring that every young cricketer can fulfil their potential.”