Cricket-loving teenager Will Gaffney’s perfect delivery is putting smiles on the faces of disadvantaged children. The student entrepreneur’s early fascination with the sport has now turned into a driving passion to help others.
Will, 18, set up Bat For A Chance from his bedroom four years ago having come up with the idea when he was just 11.
He wanted to help underprivileged kids around the world experience the joy of the sport after a cricket tour to Sri Lanka.
Will’s plan has since snowballed and his charity can now count on the support of some of the biggest hitters in the game.
He said: “I have been fortunate enough to play cricket in fantastic locations but doing this opened my eyes to how fortunate I am and how poor others’ equipment is at times.
“I also saw how much these children relied on the sport and how much it did for them.”
Bat For A Chance, which A-level student Will runs with his mum Nicky, operates in some of the world’s poorest and most-deprived countries.
It has donated softball kits to refugees in Lebanon, kitted out the Sierra Leone national team and helped a UK-based Afghan refugee by providing him with his first set of hardball pads.
The charity has come to the aid of tens of thousands of children in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa, providing schools, clubs and academies with clothing, kit and a love of the game.
To date more than 2,000 items – including bats, balls, pads and clothing – have been sent overseas. And the charity has been able to help provide access to cricket to 15,000 children across four continents.
It has the backing of England’s World Cup-winning fast bowler Chris Jordan, former Ashes winner and Sky Sports commentator Lydia Greenway, former South African Test captain Gary Kirsten and Sri Lankan legend Kumara Sangakkara.
Will recently partnered with Kirsten’s charity The Catch Trust in the township of Khayelitsha, Western Cape.
The Springbok legend, 55, said: “Will’s charity is incredible. They send us bags of equipment in very good condition in differing sizes, for kids from eight to 18. They are amazing.”
While pace ace Jordan, 34, added: “What Will has done in his life to date never fails to impress me. It’s been a real honor to be part of Bat For A Chance’s ambitions.
Supporters also include Sussex County Cricket Club, Kent County Cricket Club, and the MCC Foundation.
Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson – who, like Will, is dyslexic – was so impressed with the teenager’s mission that he has laid on his cargo airline to fly equipment across the world for free and described the initiative as “just lovely”.
The teenager studied at The King’s School in Canterbury which counts former England cricket captain David Gower among its alumni.
Will, of Stonegate, East Sussex, said: “We collect and source cricket clothing and equipment, both new and high-quality second hand.”
Will’s first shipment was to the Foundation of Goodness charity in Sri Lanka. Bat For A Chance also supports the women’s game and, with the MCC Foundation and the UNHCR, has helped thousands of refugees across Europe.
Cricket helps integration into communities. Omar Khan, chair of Bat For A Chance, said: “Will is a force of nature, doing so much good. This kid is going places.”