Youngsters have success in the bag

PUCKLECHURCH are the first club to be supported by a new initiative from the Bristol Youth Cricket League aimed at encouraging more juniors to play the sport.

The village cricket club has been presented with a full kit bag complete with everything young players need to play the game.

The number of youngsters across the country taking part in introductory versions of cricket – All Stars (ages 5-8) and Dynamos (8-11) – continues to be strong.

But not everyone goes on to play 11-a-side hard ball cricket, hence the BYCL’s new scheme which aims to provide practical support to grassroots clubs.

Chair Jim Donaldson said: “The league was very fortunate to receive a generous donation from the members when Bristol Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers came to an end and became part of Gloucestershire Association of Cricket Officials.

“We decided that the best way to use this money was to encourage more clubs to take the next, critical step of moving on to hard ball cricket, by offering them a complete kit bag featuring everything needed to play a league game.

“It has been costed, designed and provided by our longstanding partners, DFCA Coaching, and includes three bats, three pairs of pads, wicketkeeping kit, gloves, helmets and even left-handed gloves.

“Kit is an essential but expensive part of the process of stepping up from Dynamos, and we hope that the scheme will help make a difference.”

Jim believes the scheme is the only one of its kind currently running.

It is open to clubs that don’t currently have a hardball youth team and commit to entering one in the league.

BYCL is encouraging more clubs in the area to apply for a kit bag and enter teams in the hard ball leagues.

Pucklechurch chair Dean Freestone said: “We’re very grateful, it’s a fantastic idea.

“We’ve been without hard ball youth teams for about 10 years, and being offered a full bag of kit – and of this quality – to help us restart our under-13s has made the difference as any club would struggle to come up with the kind of money – around £700 – that is needed.

“The hope is that this under-13 team will next year move up and we will have another team coming in behind it, as we need to keep producing players for our senior sides.

“It makes a huge difference to our long-term sustainability if one or two each year step up from youth cricket into either our 2nds or 3rds.”

Steve Hill