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Lancashire Cricket Board - The Willows Visit Old Trafford
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The Willows Visit Old Trafford

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Class 5RS from The Willows Primary School thank Rob Tipping from the Lancashire Cricket Board, the Lancashire County Cricket Club and the ECB for arranging an absolutely outstanding and unique opportunity for us.

We have found the link between the school and Rob, through the Chance to Shine Programme, paramount in developing the positive attitude towards cricket. The Willows, based in Wythenshawe is in an area which predominantly is immersed in football, either blue or red! However, thanks to Rob, our pen pal links with schools in South Africa and the open minds, support of the staff, children and families at The Willows we have begun to embed cricket into our curriculum and lifestyle.

After a half terms worth of cricket coaching, the children in Class 5RS were hooked completely and were elated when they found out they were getting the opportunity to go and watch a cricket match. Knowing it was England v South Africa fascinated the children, parents and staff!

After we arrived at Old Trafford and settled in our seats the first group of children headed pitch side to be the first set of flag bearers for England Ladies v West Indies Ladies. The child 9 years old) who bore the flag for the West Indies said: “I felt so proud walking out onto the pitch, everyone was cheering and clapping.” They loved every moment, even if the fire works did ‘scare’ the girls!

We all then began watching the match. To think that a group of 9 year olds may be bored watching cricket was totally inaccurate. The children loved it and were enthralled by the match. In addition to the cricket, the dancers, cameras, crowd and interval entertainment made it exciting and memorable for them.

The next sets of children were summoned to bear the flags of England and South Africa. By this time the stadium had near filled and the atmosphere was greater than before. The children walked on to the pitch and waited below the players changing rooms. This opportunity provided a great vantage point to spot their stars, Swanny, Broad and Bres to name a few. Unexpectedly, the RAF jumped out of a helicopter to deliver the match ball, the children gazed upwards in awe before bearing the flags for the introduction of the teams and hand shakes!

The outright joy that was spread over the children’s faces is what it is all about, what makes it all worth while, why we teach and strive to deliver opportunities like this on a regular basis. Again, I would like to take the time to thoroughly thank Rob Tipping (LCB Cricket Development Coach for Manchester), Paul McGuffog (LCB Cricket Development Officer for Manchester), the Lancashire Cricket Board, the Lancashire County Cricket Club, Chance to Shine and the ECB for this would not have been possible with out them.

Richard Swingler and 5RS
(Head of Sport at The Willows Primary School, Wythenshawe)

Please find pictures in Image gallery on the right.

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