England star goes back to his street cricket roots
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England star goes back to his street cricket roots

England star Moeen Ali went back to his roots today (22 July) with a visit to a Chance to Shine Street session in Sparkhill, Birmingham where the all-rounder grew up.

Fresh from the second Investec Ashes Test at Lord’s, Moeen joined local youngsters aged eight-14 in playing ‘street’ cricket at Sparkhill Park thanks to the ongoing partnership between Chance to Shine and Lycamobile.

The participants and Moeen played a fast-paced version of the game which uses a tapeball – a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape – where innings lasts for 20 balls and games for 20 minutes. The games take place often in hard courts and community centers in urban areas, rather than on leafy traditional grass pitches.

Young cricket stars of the future aged seven and younger also got their chance to shine in front of the England star thanks to some Kwik cricket activity.

Speaking about the event, Moeen said, “Today has been amazing. To be back home, the area where I grew up, and give back to the community a little bit and be part of Chance to Shine again, it’s been fantastic.”

Talking about Chance to Shine Street, Moeen said, “It keeps them off the streets and cricket can teach them a lot about life. It’s about giving back to the communities and giving children an opportunity. Lycamobile do that brilliantly. To give a child an opportunity in life is a big thing. I was very fortunate that I had it. Not everybody gets that opportunity.”

When asked about the Warwickshire County Board coaches Moeen added, “I’ve known these guys for a very long time and they do a great job for the kids. They need a lot of help and support. To do this (coach) every day is not easy. These guys are the unsung heroes. They do a lot for the community.”

Talking about meeting Moeen, Chance to Shine Street participant Kashif, 14, said, "As an England fan it's really exciting to have Moeen here. I was really happy to have a Q&A with him and he showed us how to grip the ball. This is the power of cricket. We're local lads and it shows that famous cricketers can come from wherever, right?"

Chance to Shine coach Mohammed Arif added, “Sport and specifically cricket, is the glue that brings everybody together. Whether you are part of a different part of the country, a particular background, it doesn’t matter. It is life changing.”

The event was part of Lycamobile’s, the world’s biggest international mobile virtual network operator, mission to connect communities and friends and family around the world.

Thanks to Chance to Shine Street, children in inner-city areas will be off the streets and playing cricket.

Chance to Shine Street was launched in 2008 to bring cricket to young people in urban areas where there are few green spaces and fewer traditional cricket clubs. The charity is also using the game to promote social cohesion and connect young people from different backgrounds in diverse communities.

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