3 Million Stories – Rick Walton

As part of our three millionth child celebration, we asked Rick Walton to write a guest blog about what the landmark means to him:

I’ve been a sportsman all my life, a sportsman, not a salesman. So it doesn’t come naturally for me to ‘Big Up’ what I do for a living, which is coach cricket (to children, mainly, for Cricket Wales). But I’m about to make an exception.

And this is not about me. It’s about the thing we do, which is simply offering a game.

In Wales there are about a dozen of us Community Coaches going into Primary Schools to deliver cricket sessions. In our case we’re sponsored by Cricket Wales, Sport Wales and Chance to Shine, the cricket charity. We’re trained to go in and put a smile on children’s faces, show them the game, get them moving. But there’s more.

Would you believe we’re also hoping to make children better listeners, to stimulate numeracy and develop social skills? And guess what? We think about lighting up every single child with a few words of encouragement as we get right in there amongst those bobbing and weaving faces and aim to make them feel listened to…

Does it sound a bit pretentious if I say that we try to offer both a kind of release and a way in to academic work for children that we coach?

That in offering opportunities to devise games we’re looking to delve into really quite complex issues around

What works for everybody and maybe not just me?

We’re trying to do all that. We’re trying to enquire into levels of understanding and generosity and difficulty. Get this: I often think half of what I do is about coaching the sharing of the bat; because everybody wants to bat, right?

It may look like we as coaches are obsessing a bit about Physical Literacy Frameworks or some or other as˜targets. We’re not. I am pretty confident the kids in our sessions are too busy running or hitting or catching or building something to feel like they’re in some academic exercise. They are not!

Instead, they”re expressing their talents. They’re having a laugh as they’re thinking. In the end, they’re unfurling their stories as some a little clunkily, some with that magical, uncomplicated joy that sport can unleash. We’re just there to help.

So because I see this stuff as revelations upon every day, I can do the sales pitch thing. I can look you or anyone in the eye and say, “Yup, I’m happy to be making the case for cricket. Because I know people – young and older – are being transformed by it, every day.”

Chance to Shine are Bigging Up the fact that three million children have now been through sessions with their coaches as with me and my mates. Chance to Shine know that with every child there’s been impact; something learned or shared or maybe some giant leap forward made.

Opportunities to build games, build confidence or take wickets/hit runs! They know that there are wonderful stories here so they’ve adopted the # millionstories hashtag, to share all this around.

I’m happy and proud to share it too.

Rick Walton is a community coach for Cricket Wales and Chance to Shine.

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