Uncovering Gems In North Wales

Hidden in the valleys of North Wales is the small town of Bethesda. A mining town, the nearby Penrhyn Quarry was once the largest slate quarry in the world. Now, however, the town is unearthing new talents.

Although there had been a tradition of boy’s cricket at Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen, there were very few, if any, opportunities for girls. In 2014, keen to change this, Assistant Headteacher and PE Teacher Eleri Mitchelmore contacted Cricket Wales to ask for some support. From when Chance to Shine coaches Ben and Sam started
coming in, she saw a real effect. “Cricket benefits the kids immensely,” explained Eleri, “We’ve seen children change in their personality, their confidence, skills improve, much more positive about physical activity.”

In fact, the girls had become so enthused by cricket that when Eleri announced there would be lunchtime trials to take part in a local tournament, 178 girls turned up wanting to join the team. “I thought maybe 20 or 30 children would have turned up! They all wanted to be a part of the team, they all tried their best so they could be part of the cricket team.”

Building a sustainable culture of cricket within the area to harness that enthusiasm is vital. Bethesda CC have started up a girls’ team to meet the new demand for the sport and there is a clear pathway for the girls to continue with their participation in the sport. Talented pupil Lunedelfyn said, “Cricket is now my favourite sport. The sessions at school helped me improve my batting and I feel a lot more comfortable bowling and fielding, they also helped me go into my local club.”

Natalie, who plays at a club in Llandudno, feels like the sessions are inclusive and focus on building an interest in the sport: “I like that it isn’t serious and we can still enjoy it and have a good game. Having people like [Chance to Shine coach]  Sam come in really helps as well.”

For Eleri, perhaps the most important factor has been to show the stereotypical girls view of PE isn’t set in stone: “The Chance to Shine coaches have had a great impact on the girls’ attitude towards cricket. Their attitude towards sport and PE has improved. They never bring in sick notes when it’s a cricket lesson!”

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