Marianne goes full circle

Marianne Lea, a teacher at St Agnes C.E. Primary School in Manchester, has always loved sport. As a child she tried her hand at football, cricket, hockey, basketball and netball throughout her time at primary school. She was given a taste for cricket at her local club, starting off with softball and moving to hardball later on. But when the club Marianne played for in South London relocated their training session, her parents work schedules made it tricky for her to attend sessions and Marianne stopped doing sport. However, when a Chance to Shine coach visited her school in 2010, everything changed.

Marianne, who was 12 years-old at the time, spoke to the coach following the lesson and was invited to a Street cricket session in Sutton, coincidently at the club that she formerly played at. “It was really good for us because that was the only place we needed to go to on a Friday night. So we weren’t trapsing all around South London. And then in holidays, we had big competitions in the city which was great. All the projects came to that.”

Speaking eight years later, aged 26, Marianne credits the coaches for supporting her to make decisions about the future. “I was able to say ‘can I do some of the coaching’ and the coaches were happy to go with that. They would say ‘right you’ve led the warm up, now you’re going to lead a session or ‘you’re going to lead this bit of a session’. Building up the skills and the confidence of specifically girls”. Marianne continued to attend the Sutton session but began to take on some coaching responsibilities at the newly set-up Croydon session, which also supported her achieving her PE GCSE. “It was a nice balance for me. I was able to do a bit of coaching but also play a bit as well.”

“I’ve always wanted to work with children in a capacity”, says Marianne. “Using [the Croydon session] to work with young people, definitely instilled the fact that I want to work with children. It began to embed and instil qualities that I still use in coaching and teaching because it’s all very similar.” In Marianne’s case attending the Street sessions was not just an opportunity to take play cricket, it was a space where she was able to develop skills and grow as a young person. Marianne’s  self-belief in her ability to coach was further supported when she won an ‘Outstanding Young Leader of the Year’ award at the Chance to Shine Street awards, which also gave the reassurance she needed that pursuing a career working with children was the right option, “Those rewards showed that I was doing it well. So if I was doing it well then I must be able to do this as a job, I must be able to work with kids, kids must be able to respond.”

In 2014 Marianne moved to Manchester for university before joining St Agnes as their PE lead once she had graduated. The school is located in Longsight, an area with a high level of deprivation. A number of the children receive free school meals and 80% of the children speak English as an additional language. “My class loved cricket. I had about 3 or 4 boys who would not stop talking to me about cricket and when I told them I loved cricket that was it. I’ve been able to use the [Chance to Shine] resources and adapt them. The fact that they’re very simple and easy to read and follow has definitely helped colleagues, when I’ve disseminated them out, with knowing specifically the areas that they need to look at. It has definitely fed into my teaching and it was an easy thing to hook [the children] into and we’ll continue to use them.”

Marianne has continued her coaching in her spare time at Didsbury Cricket Club, supporting the girls junior section and captaining the Women’s Second XI team. She has also been working with Lancashire Cricket Foundation who last year, supported Marianne to take her Level 2 coaching qualification. “It was almost like I’ve gone full circle. I was one of those participants who got so much out of it, I wanted to give a bit back.”

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