STOKE CITY'S efforts to encourage cricket within the local community has been recognised with a prestigious honour.
Stoke City Community Trust, the Club's charitable arm, and Staffordshire Cricket Board won the Innovation Award at the Cricket Foundation's Chance to Shine awards ceremony at the Kia Oval in London last night.
The partnership has had a significant impact on the reach of the programme, with more than 1,500 hours of cricket having been delivered into 59 local schools to more than 3,000 children - 170 of whom went on to join local cricket clubs in the North Staffordshire area.
City's Head of Community Adrian Hurst said: "We are proud of Stoke City's standing within our local community but we don't solely focus our efforts on providing football opportunities to local youngsters.
"We want to give them access to as many opportunities as possible and our partnership with the Staffordshire Cricket Board has allowed us to do just that.
"We are honoured to have won the Innovation Award with the Staffordshire Cricket Board - it's pleasing that our project has been recognised."
City Chief Executive Tony Scholes said: "We're incredibly proud of the work the Community Trust carries out within the local community and although receiving awards isn't the Trust's motivation, it's satisfying their work is being recognised on a national level.
" I'm particularly pleased for Richard Adams, who heads up our Chance to Shine work, and our Community team.
"The Chance to Shine initiative is one of many activities the Community programme undertakes and underlines that our activities are not limited to football. Whilst we are always keen to help encourage youngsters to play and watch football, we also do a great deal to signpost them to other sports."
Potters' star Matthew Etherington recently lent his support to the Chance to Shine project as he joined the Club's community coaches in delivering an hour-long coaching session at Offley CE Primary School in Madeley.
Chance to Shine was launched by the Cricket Foundation in 2005 with the aim of linking cricket clubs to local primary and secondary schools, paying qualified cricket coaches to deliver cricket sessions and matches in schools, training teachers and encouraging children to play at cricket clubs.
Last year more than 4,500 schools nationwide were engaged with almost 350,000 children taking part.