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England Men’s Test Captain Ben Stokes Joins Calls for More School Sport

Ben Stokes plays sport with a youngster

Ben Stokes, the dynamic captain of England’s Men’s Test cricket team, is lending his influential voice to an important cause: the urgent need for more school sport.

Stokes recently visited Newcastle’s Hawthorn Primary School, where he saw firsthand the impact of an expanded schools program funded by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The program is delivered by Northumberland Cricket in partnership with the charity Chance to Shine, offering free cricket lessons to the pupils.

Ahead of the upcoming election on July 4, the ECB has united with other sports governing bodies including the FA, RFU, RFL, and the LTA.

Together, they are urging political parties to support a pledge ensuring that school sport is prioritised.

Their goal is to guarantee a minimum of two hours of quality sport and physical education within the National Curriculum and to ensure every child has the opportunity to be active for at least an hour each day, both in and out of school.

Stokes emphasized the importance of this initiative: “Bringing cricket and sport and more PE time into schools has got to be good.

You’d hate someone who from a young age has potentially got talent not to be able to progress because of opportunity.

It all comes down to opportunity. For me, it’s all about what can we do to see the next England stars, and that starts at school and then onto club cricket as well.”

He also highlighted the broader benefits of sport beyond physical health, stressing its role in mental well-being and social development.

“It’s more than the physical side of PE and sport in school that’s great. It’s the mental side of things as well.

What sport does, and particularly cricket as it’s a team sport, is it creates an environment where kids can create relationships, it teaches them about working together as a team, or working towards a goal.

It teaches kids from a young age what it is to be part of a team and how rewarding it can be, not only from the success that you can get from sport, but also going through hardship to get there as well. Sport is just great and I would encourage the more PE the better.”

Hawthorn Primary is one of many schools benefiting from the ECB’s expanded initiative, which particularly targets schools with high percentages of children on free school meals.

This ensures that opportunities to play cricket reach those who might otherwise miss out. Last academic year, the ECB, in partnership with Chance to Shine, delivered cricket to approximately 4,000 state schools, focusing on an additional 300 schools and 38,000 students who were most at risk of being left out.

The initiative is set to expand further. An ambitious extension aims to reach 20,000 more students in another 150 schools, integrating cricket into their school day at no cost.

With additional Government funding over the next five years, the program will broaden even further, ensuring that every school child in inner-city areas across the 16 cities hosting either the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2026 or the Men’s T20 World Cup in 2032 can participate.

Ben Stokes’ involvement goes beyond ceremonial duties. His presence and words underscore the importance of sport in schools, echoing the sentiment that opportunities in sports like cricket should be accessible to all children, regardless of their background.

As political leaders deliberate on education policies, the call for mandatory school sport is gaining momentum, championed by sports stars who know firsthand the transformative power of physical education.