“Cricket was a no-brainer”

A key part of the work of Chance to Shine is encouraging children to continue their cricketing journey at their local cricket club; the longer children play cricket, the more they benefit from the game. For many children, however, making the move to a cricket club can be daunting and the hard ball often puts children off playing the sport. At Abel Smith Primary School in Hertford, they understood the challenges of supporting transition and decided to bring the club to the school.

Abel Smith have been receiving Chance to Shine coaching since 2017 and the school have seen how their pupils enjoy playing cricket. In 2019, every single year group had a full Chance to Shine programme and PE lead at the school, Steph Tilbury, is full of praise for the programme and the outcomes it delivers. Steph talks passionately about how inclusive cricket is, noting “Cricket was a no-brainer, it doesn’t matter what ability, it’s non-contact, it’s safe, the gender doesn’t matter, everyone’s on a level playing field.”

Steph is also full of praise for the delivery from Hertfordshire Cricket coach Dan Reynolds, who has encouraged all children to take part: “Dan is outstanding, probably the best coach I’ve had in school across all sports, his enthusiasm for the sport and for children, he just works with the children so well. Children who don’t usually enjoy their sport, have enjoyed the cricket.”

Steph had been keen for a little while to encourage parents to join in with some physical activity sessions, seeing it as a good way to make some of the children who don’t normally take part feel more comfortable. Having seen the success of the sessions across the school, it was obvious what was the best way to do this: “Some children won’t access a club unless their parents are there, it’s the lack of confidence. Cricket was a no-brainer.”

An after-school cricket club began in 2019 and just like the children, initially the parents were a little sceptical about taking part: “A few of the Mums came up to me and said ‘Are you sure it’s ok for me to come along? I haven’t got a clue about cricket!’ I just told them ‘Your children didn’t really know about cricket 6 weeks ago but it’s absolutely fine.’ We’re all learning and all having fun together”.

The after-school session has worked really well, allowing the children to feel more comfortable taking part in extra-curricular sport. With mums, dads and even grandparents coming along, the sessions also provided a great opportunity for inter-generational bonding: “It was a great atmosphere, we were just having fun. It was a real social end to the week.”

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