To Lord’s on Sunday, for an ECB presentation on their new programme for 5-8 year olds – All Stars Cricket.
The promise is ambitious.
All Stars Cricket is a nationwide programme developed by the ECB and our Elite Coach Development team that aims to inspire 5 to 8 year olds to take up cricket and join your club!
All Stars Cricket enables children to acquire the skills to play the game and connects them to England cricket heroes. We will provide your club with everything you need to deliver an unique experience for kids and their parents.
Active and direct support from ECB to recruit players and volunteers, and the added incentive that “the programme will be unbureacratic and will not require the level of training of coaches as clubs are normally used to” combine to make All Stars Cricket very attractive to Clubs struggling to attract young players into the game.
The pitch was strong on “player experience” and engagement (both good things, essential, in fact). Less clear (at this, very early, stage) on progression and retention of players.
But at first sight, All Stars Cricket definitely looks like a winner!
One area that remains to be explained is the role (if any) of the existing coaches, volunteer and professional, working with children.
The rhetoric around “putting the best available coaches into the most important stage in player development – the ignition stage” (as delivered at Coaches Association conferences) appears to have been replaced by “entry level programmes delivered by entry level coaches”.
This latter concept certainly fits with the latest Coaching Plan for England (from Sport England), which envisages a new class of coaches, working in “community” and “participation” roles. Rather than completing lengthy (and expensive) “level 2” qualifications before they can lead a session, coaches will receive initial training on coaching methodology and techniques, and then develop their coaching skills through ongoing CPD and by learning on the job.
It is not clear if there is any role for existing level 2 coaches to work with children under the new programmes. Possibly as mentors to the new volunteer coaches. Perhaps once the young players “graduate” from All Stars Cricket, at the age of 9 (All Stars Cricket is explicitly targeting 5-8 year olds).
If they are to be utilised, working with new coaches or children, “old school” coaches might need to be trained to deliver a new style session to a new audience – no longer those who have joined their local cricket clubs so they can play the game, but (hopefully) a new mass intake, enthused by All Stars Cricket to try a new game.
Interesting (and exciting) times, certainly.