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Winter Youth Programme Update

Richard White

Since last October the Northern Cricket Union have been busier than ever, with their programme for youth coaching (boys and girls), sponsored by PwC. Every Sunday at the Ulster University, Jordanstown Campus, there are six sessions for all age groups from Under 9’s upwards, utilising both the Sports Hall and the excellent 3G surface.

NCU Representative Cricket Director Brian Walsh says, ‘we are delighted that each year we are seeing more clubs nominating boys and girls to our winter coaching programme’.

Tremendous investment is being put into youth cricket in the NCU area, with lead coaches Peter Bates, Andy McCrea, Callum Atkinson, Uel Graham, and Nigel Jones (Under 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17 respectively), and a lot of other excellent coaches assisting. This year a new dimension has been added with Eugene Moleon taking all age groups for Functional Movement Skills, including agility, which is an impressive addition to the cricket coaching.

Eugene says, ‘cricket has evolved so much recently as cricketers are also athletes. We witness balls being hit further and harder, bowlers bowling quicker, and fielders becoming quicker at moving and reacting. Movement skills in cricket allows cricketers to run faster, change direction effectively, and have the ability to react to various aspects of the game either whilst fielding or batting. We focus on individuals and how they can move effectively’.

In conjunction with the Under 9s, 10s, 11s, 13s and 15s, this year the NCU have formed a Development Group for cricketers who have not made the main squads at Under 13’s and 15’s. This provides coaching to an even wider range of children who still have an opportunity to impress and make the squads. As well as the aforementioned groups, the Andrew White Academy is also being coached, as are the Boys Under 17’s and Girls underage squads.

Lead Coach Uel Graham says, ‘the strategic view of involving more players deeper into our programme has worked extremely well with development groups at Under 11/13 and Under 15 ensuring that more players than ever from more clubs are getting more intense and concentrated coaching. Club coaches have also been welcomed at many sessions with sharing of best practice a key element as part of our regional and club coach development. One of the big benefits is the number of coaches from a variety of clubs who are assisting the lead coaches, up to twenty, and who are then able to use the experience back at their own clubs youth schemes’.