One clear theme is emerging in my coaching diary for the start of the year — in 2020 I will be doing much more to support cricket for girls.
The start of the year will see a focus on coaching in schools:
- three schools signed up through the Team Up programme, via Essex Cricket in the Community — upwards of 50 hours with yr7, 8 & 9 girls before Easter;
- one of the schools has asked if I can run an after-school club for the girls.
Cricket for girls
I have always enjoyed coaching with women & girls.
The girls do seem to listen better than groups of boys, and (mostly) “play nicely” — a better learning environment, and much more enjoyable for the coach.
Sheffield University — early experience
My very first coaching experience was with the (then) newly-formed Ladies’ section of the University of Sheffield Cricket Club, back in 1982 — a couple who had played some cricket at school, some hockey players, friends of friends.
In truth, I didn’t really know what I was doing as a coach, back then, but the group stuck together through pre-season training, and even played some games in the summer.
The fact that it was nearly 30 years before I returned to coaching had nothing to do with my early experience with the Sheffield Uni Ladies! Work (real work, that paid the bills) got in the way.
1-to-1s — a glimpse of the Performance pathway
In 2016 I did a little 1-to-1 coaching with two girls in the County development pathway schemes, and it is good to see that one of them, at least, was still in the CAG programme last summer and also playing (open) club cricket.
Team Up — where are the role models?
So I was pleased (honoured, even) to be asked to deliver three Team Up programmes in the New Year.
Now, it really ought to be a female coach/role-model going into these schools.
I must be doing something right (I have been invited back to one school after spending several weeks with them back in the summer term) but I can never be a role model for the girls.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough women coaching in East London to support the demand, so the girls will have to make do with me.
I have worked with some very good female coaches, people who have inspired me to be a better coach. I can only imagine the impact one of them could have, as a coach, cricketer and a woman, with a class of 12 yr old girls.
But we need to bring more women into cricket coaching.
And how, then, do we encourage and reward coaches working in the “ignition” phase to motivate them to stay in this essential role?
Activator training — finding female coaches
It looks as if my aspiration to join the ECB Coach Developer network will be on hold in 2020.
I have, however, been asked to support training for All Stars Cricket Activators, again, and possibly also for the ECB’s new Dynamos Cricket programme.
All Stars is a great entry point for girls (and boys), and the launch of Dynamos Cricket will see a drive to establish more girls’ sections in East London clubs.
So, in addition to coaching in schools, I will have a small role in creating opportunities for more girls to experience the game of cricket in clubs.
Should be fun!
Aside — the title for this piece is probably a little ambitious — I don’t really anticipate another decade of coaching. By 2029 I will be beyond the State Pension age (unless it moves, again), and I don’t expect to be chasing around coaching in schools…