Young cricketers from The Canterbury Academy Trust are set to head on tour - but will need to help fundraise beforehand.
The Canterbury Academy, winners of The Cricketer Schools 1st XI Hundred competition in the past two years, want to take their pupils to Sri Lanka for 10 days next March.
With the trip expected to cost just shy of £2,000 per family, they will need to raise money to ensure everyone is able to go on what is potentially the trip of a lifetime.
Director of sport Phil Relf, who explained they plan to hold a quiz night at the school this month, led by Kent head coach Matt Walker, said: “We have several families who will probably be okay.
“They will be relatively comfortable raising that sort of money. But equally, for a lot of our families, this will be a real challenge.
“It’s coming in at about £1,900 per family which is a considerable amount of money, particularly in the times that we’re living in at the moment.
“We do have a couple of lads with refugee status. For them to raise this sort of money, it’s a bit of an effort.
“But we’re doing what we can. We have some really good support from local businesses for previous tours so we’re certainly going to be reaching out to them again.
“Any help will be greatly appreciated.
“We plan to run a quiz night at the back-end of November at school where we will be looking for families to raise a bit of support by getting some teams together. I think Kent Cricket are quite interested in helping out. Matt Walker, their head coach, is going to be quizmaster on the night.
“He’s pretty skilled at doing these sorts of things. He’s a bit of a film buff so I’m sure he’ll have some pretty challenging questions around modern films in one of the rounds.
“Kent has been excellent with us. We have trained up there this winter and they helped us out last winter by putting on some indoor facilities when we needed it and they were very helpful a couple of years ago, prior to Desert Springs.
“We’re looking for a bit more support from them.”
When competing in Desert Springs, Relf explained how they have been limited in terms of the numbers they have been able to take. They hope to head to Sri Lanka with a large squad which, in turn, will ensure they can match the strength of opposition they face.
He said: “We were only able to take 14 or 16 players, and it became really tough to leave players out. So the plan is to take 28 this time.
“We’ll have our advanced Academy and our foundation Academy combining. The plan is to just make sure that we match the strength of opposition and give the players the sort of challenges that they need.
“We want to go over there, face difficult circumstances and be on the receiving end of losses, potentially, because that’ll be quite valuable for them from a cricket perspective.
“The conditions they will face out there will be pretty humid. The temperature will be pretty hot and that’ll be pretty energy-sapping.
“So, they’ll need to think about eating the right stuff, making sure they are rehydrating, they sit in the shade and can conserve energy when they can conserve energy and recover properly afterwards. All of those things will be absolutely essential.
“It’s great - at 16, 17 or 18 - that they will be able to learn those skills.”
The tour will see The Canterbury Academy players visit Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and Kandy.
“It’s a 10-day trip,” noted Relf. “It’s going to be a two-centred tour so we’re going to spend time in Kandy and we’re also going to spend time in Colombo.
“I’ve been told that they are completely different places to an extent in terms of the environments. Colombo, obviously, is their capital city so that’ll be slightly different to Kandy. There will be a bit of travelling on the trip as well. That’s no bad thing.
“Myself and Dave Fulton, two of the coaches, went on a Kent Cricket tour when we were 17. We were very lucky in that we spent a week in Singapore and then five weeks in New Zealand.
“One of the things Dave remembers about the trip is the travel, really, the scenery around New Zealand and seeing different places.
“We’ll certainly be keen that our lot don’t spend too long on mobile phones - making sure they have their eyes open and are taking in a quite unique experience.
“That’s such a key part of all of this. We quite easily could have played seven or eight days of cricket - but we have decided to balance it a little bit.
“We have got some opportunities to go and see some of the deprived areas in Sri Lanka and we’re going to do some coaching with some children that maybe wouldn’t experience that sort of thing too often.
“There’ll be a couple of visits to different places, like temples and an elephant orphanage up in Pinnawala.
“Some of our lads potentially haven’t done too much travelling at all and these are great chances to establish the life skill bit of meeting new people, looking after yourself overseas and preparing for travel.
“Even the fundraising itself, they’re great chances to think about how to give back to their local community and do some things that, hopefully, will be beneficial for their futures.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping to support plans for the Sri Lanka tour.