Magic On Merseyside

Barton Mathews, of The Cricketer, reports on how an inspirational teacher started a schools’ cricketing success story from scratch.

There are awards for start-up businesses. But inspirational Stuart Elsworth has been lauded as a start-up cricket coach.

Elsworth, 37, is head of science at St Christopher’s Primary School in Speke, Merseyside. Wanting to take an after-school activity, the list of options was limited.

Despite not playing cricket or having past interest in the game, he decided to give it a try. He started watching coaching videos on YouTube and soon his enthusiasm started delivering extraordinary results.

In the 15 years since he took up cricket coaching, St Christopher’s have scooped 59 trophies for boys’ and girls’ cricket. The girls’ team were crowned Lancashire county champions in 2015, and the boys have been regulars in county finals.

I have seen children with behavioural problems who have really struggled with school life absolutely thrive through cricket, and seeing smiles on parents’ faces when they see their child learning new skills in a team is amazing.

Elsworth runs cricket workshops and transformed the school’s cricket club into one of the most popular after-school clubs. It is little wonder that Chance to Shine and MCC named Elsworth as Best Teacher of the Year in England and Wales at their 2016 Annual Awards at Lord’s.

The judging panel said Elsworth had, in a deprived area with a high crime rate and an absence of local cricket clubs, created a cricketing powerhouse.

“Chance to Shine put us in touch with clubs we didn’t know existed and helped us with coaches and equipment,” Elsworth told The Cricketer. “I’ve got no cricket background and they gave me the expertise to progress my coaching.

“The football and cross-country clubs were full and I wanted to get involved. The trophies are great but really they are just the icing on the cake. I have seen children with behavioural problems who have really struggled with school life absolutely thrive through cricket, and seeing smiles on parents’ faces when they see their child learning new skills in a team is amazing.

“It’s all about having a laugh with the kids, while showing them that if they work hard and practise then they can achieve success. That’s what it is really all about.

“Some of our youngsters have now gone on to represent Lancashire at Under-11 and Under-15 level.”

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