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Cricket Gains Further Momentum at The Willows

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Susie Rowe (England Women) with The Willows pupils Susie Rowe (England Women) with The Willows pupils

A Wythenshawe primary school where the pupils had played no cricket at all last April has been filmed and chosen as a case study to illustrate the impact of the national Chance to Shine programme.

The Willows in Woodhouse Park now runs two cricket classes a week and an after-school club, but the games hall may still be a cricket-free zone were it not for Wythenshawe CC selecting it to receive coaching as part of the country-wide initiative. 

As a result of their involvement in the Chance to Shine programme, which aims to take cricket into state schools, two classes of the Willows pupils now get expert coaching from the Lancashire Cricket Board's community coach Rob Tipping, who also runs an after-school club.

"The response has been brilliant," said Tipping. "The children didn't know the rules of the game last April but they're being won over. They are really into their cricket now and play in their lunch time and breaks.

"Those things have never happened before at the Willows and it just shows the impact that Chance to Shine and its coaching schemes can have."

But the Willows success story doesn't stop there. England women's cricketer Susie Rowe has visited the school to help with the coaching and pupils were chosen to provide a guard of honour at last September's t20 international at Old Trafford.

And at the moment Tipping and teacher Richard Swingler are running a successful twinning project with a school in South Africa.This innovative programme began last summer and has involved pupils from the Willows and Sentinel School, Hout Bay, Cape Town exchanging letters and discovering all they can about each other's countries and specific areas.

Last month two teachers from the Sentinel School visited the Willows and took part in Tipping's coaching sessions, and hopes are high that links between the schools can be maintained and strengthened.

"The big aim now is for us to go over to South Africa and coach there," said Tipping. "It's ambitious, I know, but who would have thought that cricket at the Willows could come so far in less than a year."

Written by: Paul Edwards

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