Lilly’s journey to represent her county

Eighteen months ago, 10 year-old Lilly didn’t do sport. Lilly was shy, unconfident and didn’t count herself amongst the ‘sporty’ children in her class. She had played a bit of cricket on the beach with her family but despite the best efforts of her cousin Chloe, a Suffolk Cricket coach, Lily just didn’t do sport.

Things changed when Chloe visited Kingsfleet Primary School to deliver Chance to Shine sessions to Lily and her classmates. “First session, Lily was quite nervous,” Chloe recalls, “but then it clicked, people were telling her she was good at it.” With praise and support from her peers came confidence. Lily says: “I thought that it was really fun and good to play as a team.”

When the sessions ended, Lilly wanted to continue playing but was nervous about going to a club by herself, so she convinced 14 of her classmates to join her at Felixstowe & Corinthians Cricket Club. Four have stuck with the club and become a tight-knit group. They now happily join the boys’ sessions and, Chloe says with a laugh, “once they got into the hang of it, they were organising the boys!”

Lilly can see herself how cricket has boosted her confidence: “It makes me feel good because you know that you’ve helped the team. You feel good especially when your team supports you.” Lilly has had a difficult few months and has told Chloe that “cricket is the only positive thing in her life. It’s the only thing she enjoys, it’s like her outlet. She wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t played  at school”.

Lilly’s hard work and dedication has paid off – she was recently selected for the Suffolk under 11 county team. She feels strongly that girls should have the opportunity to play cricket. If anyone were to challenge her on whether girls ought to be taking part, they should be ready for a fearsome response: “I would just not listen to them because it is a sport for girls and I don’t care what anybody thinks!”

Now a Year 6 pupil, Lilly is having to make the big decision about secondary school and is keen to make sure that, wherever she chooses, there’s the opportunity to carry on her cricketing career, “It’s completely embedded in her life” says Chloe. A year later, with key decisions ahead of her, one thing is absolutely settled: Lilly does do sport!

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