Emilio Gay has joined a group of young cricketers for a special tour of The Oval to celebrate Black History Month.
Gay is an ambassador for cricketing charity Chance to Shine, who hosted the event in partnership with the ACE Programme and Surrey Cricket Foundation.
“It’s been a really great experience to be part of the Chance to Shine setup.” Gay said.
“Being involved in the different programs they run and seeing how they’re getting people from different backgrounds playing cricket when they wouldn’t really get into the sport normally has been fantastic.”
Established in 2020, the ACE Programme aims to engage young people of African and Caribbean heritage, a cause close to Gay’s heart.
“Getting to be a part of ACE as an ambassador is really rewarding for me personally. My family are from the Caribbean on my dad’s side and having that Afro-Caribbean ancestry, it’s inspiring for me to see the game that I love giving back to that community in the UK.”
The number of Black British cricketers has dropped by 75 per cent in last 25 years, now making up less than 1% of players the recreational game.
“If you look at the stats, the majority of people that play the game, it’s a predominantly a white sport in the UK. The game needs to keep growing and the more we can bring people from different backgrounds and environments into the game the better.
“Chance to Shine and ACE are great because they’re going out to people and places that might not normally be exposed to cricket and taking the game to them.”
Gay believed his role with the programmes was key, particularly when he looked to what was happening in other sports in the UK.
“You look at the likes of what Lewis Hamilton has done for the Afro-Caribbean community through racing, that’s just so inspiring.
“But right now there isn’t that Rashford or Joshua or Hamilton for cricket, there’s just not that many Afro-Caribbean players playing in the UK. Like those guys, I’d like to one day be that inspiration in cricket for the Afro-Caribbean community in the UK. That would be incredibly rewarding and something to be really proud of.
“If we can get the numbers up and inspire a new generation and bring a few more players through the system I’m sure it will just grow from there.”