An academy head coach has come up with “leading edge” plans to get youngsters at his club playing cricket again after the sport was halted due to COVID-19.
Ian Roberts and his 14-year-old son Joe, from Newport, teamed up to deliver coaching to the juniors at Forton Cricket Club Academy, near Newport, on a 1:1 basis in line with both government and ECB guidelines.
The coach meticulously planned the programme ensuring that the children were in a safe and non-contact environment and over a two-week period, 43 sessions were delivered to 23 children over 70 hours.
In addition thanks to Ian’s ingenuity the plan and guidelines have been distributed to neighbouring clubs within the region enabling them to start cricket within their local communities.
Forton Cricket Club’s Junior Academy had planned a “bumper start’ to their 2020 season with an International Tour to La Manga in Spain, where they were due to experience playing against numerous clubs including the Spanish under 13 team, but it was cancelled because of COVID-19.
Ian said: “We were all excited to be going on the International Tour and so disappointed when we couldn’t go because of COVID-19 and the lockdown.
“When the lockdown eased a little there was a lot of work behind the scenes by myself and other members of the club to ensure that the 1:1 sessions could go ahead for the juniors in a safe environment.
“It is just wonderful to see the children back playing cricket again and the smiles have said it all.
“The sessions have been a huge success. Our aim has been to support our children and young people’s education, fitness and mental health, thus giving a welcome relief and an opportunity of respite to our juniors and their families through this difficult time.”
Following the success of winning the Shropshire Junior Development club of the year (2019) Forton Cricket Club Academy continued to excel and develop its Junior section with the largest number of attendees at their highly successful long standing Winter Nets programme.
Work is also underway to transform the club with the installation of some ground breaking international nets (same as Lords) which had been achieved by the dedication and support of the committee, players, families and the local community through fundraising, donations and a ECB grant.
If you are interested in joining the club please get in touch via its website https://forton.play-cricket.com
The club can also be supported through a lottery page https://www.southstaffslottery.co.uk/support/forton-cricket-academy where 50 per cent of all funds pledged will go directly to the club and support it in expanding its playing portfolio in 2021 to include an all-girls and a disability team, new equipment, improved facilities and continued academy player development.