And “good riddance” to 2020.
Last year was almost a write-off for coaching, for me. A busy 10 weeks pre-lockdown, including a very hopeful day learning to tutor new All Stars and Dynamos Cricket Activators, but nothing else for me since early March.
I’ve not been shielding, but with my parents both in their 80s to look out for, it makes sense to avoid the risk of infection by giving a wide berth to crowds — schools, and public transport, have been off the schedule.
One regular coaching venue did manage to re-open for (some of) the autumn term, but (sensibly) their draft Risk Assessment explicitly stated “… staff…requiring difficult journeys on public transport will be kept away…”. No work, there.
But, to be honest, I really haven’t missed coaching during first lockdown, nor since. The hours spent travelling, carting a kitbag on trains, for just a couple of hours coaching, had become a chore.
But what to do in 2021?
And that is “time”!
Time for a change.
It was never my intention to specialise in coaching children when I was awarded my level 2 “badge” in 2011 — back then, the “Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Cricket”, and no mention of “children” or “YPA”.
I have never thought of myself as a “children’s coach”.
But as very few of my colleagues wanted to do it, I took the soft-ball u9s at the Club, seeing that the alternative they were offered was akin to a hard-ball boot camp — 7- and 8-year olds don’t need to “toughen up”; they need to play, for the fun of playing.
So I left the “hard ball, development” squads for the “senior” coaches, because they didn’t want to deal with the u9s, and because I could.
I took the u5s groups, and the u4s (!), because they deserved better than a regimented, drill-based, 45 minutes of “coaching”, and being sat out for not listening.
But still, I thought of myself as a cricket coach, not a child-minder, even with the youngest. Yes, we played games, but they were cricket games. And the kids got better at playing those games. And they wanted to come back next week.
That sounds like cricket coaching, to me.
But I can’t honestly say that I am all that keen to get back to it, once life begins to get back to normal.
I don’t expect to do any club or “academy” coaching in 2021.
No more “now we are going to learn the front-foot defence” (don’t think I ever ran this session, in reality), no more “games to learn how to play the game”, even.
I have written previously about the inspirational approach to PE of Create Development, and how Chance to Shine have bought into this ideology — it’s all about encouraging a child’s engagement with movement and learning through sport, not for the game.
Shifting the focus to “creating positive relationships with physical activity for life!”, as Create Development put it.
Perhaps that can be the mantra for 2021 — cricket as the medium, not the message.
So I’ll be looking for some Chance to Shine work, once local covid-19 infection rates are back under control and the schools are happy to invite external coaches to come back in.
Hopefully some more Team Up England work, if the programme continues, and the County Board don’t manage to recruit more female coaches to take the game into local girls’ schools.
Maybe some All Stars in the summer, Dynamos Cricket, too, if any local clubs need an Activator.
It would be nice to do a bit more coach development work, starting with All Stars and Dynamos Activators in spring 2021. Maybe even some Foundation 1 courses — I did qualify as an ECB Coach Developer, back in 2019, but never got the chance to deliver before lockdown intervened.
Hopefully supporting local schools competitions, if we get a summer term in 2021.
Maybe even some umpiring.
And I still have some playing ambitions (knees permitting). Started “pre-season” running programme before Christmas…re-starting next week.
Still searching for that perfect outswinger…just bowling quite a bit slower.
But one way or another, there should be plenty to keep me busy in 2021.