On 11 February 2015, 24 sixth form students from Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) and Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) are embarking on a Cricket Tour to South Africa. The students are members of the Aldridge Cricket Academy (ACA), a programme that enables 16-19 year olds the opportunity to develop cricket skills alongside their academic qualifications.
For the past 18 months the students have taken part in an intensive training and playing regime to prepare for the tour. Some ACA players also train at county and national levels; two boys recently returned from training in Sri Lanka with Sussex Academy and Tara Norris will go on this Tour after having just been in South Africa training with England. On Tour the ACA players will form two teams with the Academy’s top girls in the starting line-up alongside the first team boys. The teams will play local competition to improve skills and gain experience in a different climate and on new pitch conditions. They will be immersed in a foreign culture and visit historic sites, which is especially exciting for the players who will be abroad for the first time. They will also share their knowledge and skills through coaching local children. This is the kind of opportunity that students in fee paying schools sometimes have, but one which is rare for players attending state schools.
To make the tour a reality, students contributed to numerous fundraising activities that raised nearly £50,000 for the Tour. The largest fundraising event was the Gala Dinner at BACA in October 2014. This was attended by big names from Sussex Cricket, including Luke Wright, and raised over £19,000. Students studying GCSE catering at BACA prepared the meal for the event and the team members played an integral role greeting and serving the guests. Following the dinner, the tour brochure raised a further £6,600 through advertising.
Other events hosted by the students included a Christmas Cheer fete at PACA, car washes at both academies and charity dinners and bake sales put on by individual players.
Beth (an all-rounder from BACA) – “My favourite activity was the bake sale because I decided on the types of cakes, made all of them myself and then had lots of fun selling them for donations. I made £237 from one cake sale alone!”
Shaun (a bowler from BACA) – “I really enjoyed helping with the Gala Dinner. The end result made all the time and hard work we put into it more than worth it.”
Oliver, (an all-rounder from PACA) speaking about the Gala Dinner -“It was satisfying being part of something so successful.”
Alexia Walker, Director of Cricket for the Aldridge Cricket Academy, is excited about this opportunity for the players. “For many of the students the fundraising efforts made it possible for them to go to South Africa. The Tour will improve their cricket skills as they play against top school and club sides in a very strong cricketing country. The culture they will encounter and the people they will meet will also help them become well rounded and engaged members of today’s global society.”
More information can be found on the ACA Tour website, which was designed and developed by one of the team members – http://www.aldridgesportsacademytours.co.uk/ and on twitter – @ACATour.