Undeterred by the freezing weather, Jim Love made his way from Tadcaster to Hull last night for a really enjoyable evening. Jim's work as Regional Manager (North) for the charity Chance to Shine is keeping him very busy at the moment. Described by Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson as 'one of the most successful grassroots sports initiatives in this country', Chance to Shine aims to reverse the rapid decline in state school cricket experienced since the 1980s. The scheme has already given cricketing opportunities to over 1.5 million primary age children nationwide. And now with new funding from Sport England Jim and his colleagues are preparing to go into the secondary sector for the first time. It's a campaign which certainly means a lot to Jim, a one-time pupil at Brudenell School in Leeds, where a cricket-loving headmaster helped him take his first steps towards a professional career.
Now Chance to Shine has produced its first county player in sixteen-year-old Pudsey wicketkeeper Barney Gibson, who came through the scheme to make his Yorkshire debut in 2011, the youngest ever player to play first-class cricket in England. But Jim is keen to emphasise that Chance to Shine is not primarily about identifying potential England and county players. Instead it aims to encourage involvement at all levels of the sport, and its undoubted success means that he looks to the future with great confidence.