By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
CRICKET clubs all over Devon are being urged to dig out any old kit and donate it to a charity working in impoverished parts of Sri Lanka.
Tim Mitchell, who plays cricket for Seaton, got involved in the Ceylon Cricket Foundation while studying for his biology degree at the University of York.
The university cricket squad was coached by Sri Lankan Tharindu Perera, who recruited Mitchell and a handful of team-mates for his charitable foundation.
Cricket facilities in schools are in short supply in Sri Lanka and the foundation is trying to do something to improve the situation.
Mitchell said the charitable foundation has a plan to make cricket more accessible to youngsters in Sri Lanka and Devon clubs can lend a helping hand.
“Our intention is to make cricket more accessible in schools where very few young makes get the chance to play,” said Mitchell.
“We want to raise money for coaching and coach education and for improving facilities.
“And we want to equip 20 schools in Sri Lanka with two kit bags – one for seniors, one for juniors – which is where clubs in Devon can help.
“We urgently need surplus kit – new, nearly new or in good condition – that can be shipped out there.”
Mitchell, a 23-year-old civil servant who attended Colyton Grammar School before heading to university, has seen for himself how limited cricket facilities are in for young players in South Africa.
Encouraged by coach Perera at the University of York, Mitchell and three team-mates spent seven weeks in Sri Lanka in 2019 seeing what was and wasn’t available for young cricketers.
“We had raised some money before we went out there which we used to purchase cricket equipment locally,” said Mitchell.
“Very few schools have a cricket set-up. There are nearly 10,000 schools in Sri Lanka and only 600 have proper cricket facilities. Just 1.9 per cent of school-age males have structured access to cricket at school.
“Most youngsters can only play on street corners and nowhere else, which is why we want to set-up a school’s programme.”
Mitchell said the charity has already coached or equipped more than 2,000 young cricketers in 62 schools all over Sri Lanka. Now the charity wants to do more.
“We want to find partners in this country for 20 schools in Sri Lanka so we can provide them with the support and funds they need,” said Mitchell.
“It will probably be schools with a bit of money in this country we look for as clubs might not be able to help at the moment.
“In addition to the kit bags we want to train coaches through the first two levels of the Sri Lanka coaching system and pay the monthly wages for two of them at each school. The coaching is £65 each and the wages around £100 a month.
“The attraction for schools in this country getting involved could be the possibility of educational and cultural exchanges.”
Mitchell and a team from the Ceylon Cricket Foundation hope to revisit Sri Lanka as soon as the world-wide Coronavirus crisis is over. Anyone who can donate kit that can be taken to Sri Lanka should email email@example.com