Pupils from Castle Hill High School enjoyed a day to remember when they travelled to London to take part in the Lord’s Taverners National Table Cricket Finals.
The Stockport school’s side were one of 12 teams to compete in the Nursery Pavilion, at Lord’s Cricket Ground, last week for the right to call themselves national champions.
More than 300 schools and over 3,000 disabled young people took part during the regional heats of the competition, now into its 20th year, which is made possible thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and Ford.
Castle Hill High School finished eighth in the finals as Ralph Thoresby School lifted the trophy and teacher Ciara Breslin said the transformation the children have made since taking up the sport has been remarkable.
“They have been so excited to go to the finals and for the past month they have been singing about going to London,” she said. “It’s just been so great to see them so excited about it.
“A lot of our children can’t participate in every sport, like football and netball, but table cricket is something they can all access it fully and get involved in.
“They get the chance to take on different roles and we’ve seen of lot of our pupils really thrive, such as Jack who has taken on the role of captain and taken it very seriously.
“It’s been absolutely amazing being at the Finals and while we haven’t won every game, every time we’ve scored or got a point everyone has cheered and been high-fiving each other.
“It’s just brilliant to see them all being so supportive of each other and seeing the smiles on their faces and the experience at Lord’s is one I’m sure they will remember for a long time.”
Played on a table tennis table with side panels and sliding fielders, a ball launcher, weighted plastic ball and wooden bat, table cricket enables young people with severe physical and learning difficulties the opportunity to play in a competitive game of cricket.
The game not only promotes team work and sportsmanship in an enjoyable environment, it also improves life skills such as self-confidence, independence and social integration.
An enhanced role for the captain also allows for the development of leadership skills and 13-year-old Jack Brunt, who took on the position for Castle Hill, said he loved being at finals day at Lord’s.
“Table cricket is a very good experience and it’s very competitive, but it’s not about the winning, it’s the taking part that counts, and it was great we made it this far,” he said.
“The thing I enjoy most about table cricket is being able to work together in a team as you work together with people you wouldn’t normally match with and make new friends.
“It means a lot to us to come to Lord’s and I’ve not been here before. It’s an absolutely amazing experience and I have really enjoyed every moment of the finals.”
Watching on as the school competed in the Nursery Pavilion was Radio 1 DJ, cricket lover and ambassador for the Lord’s Taverners Greg James, who was full of praise for the charity’s work.
“It’s brilliant and it gives young kids with learning difficulties and physical disabilities a chance to club together, both cricket fans and non-cricket fans, and have an amazing day,” he said.
“Everyone gets a go and it’s competitive, but it’s also fun and promotes teamwork. It gets everyone together and talking to each other, giving them a chance to meet new people.
“These kids are meeting other kids from all over the country, so they get to meet people outside their own community who also have a similar background to them which is fantastic.
“The whole point of the Lord’s Taverners is to give kids with disabilities chances and to do something like this, which is saying you are amazing and look what you can do.”
The Lord’s Taverners is the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity whose aim is to give disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance – go to www.lordstaverners.org to find out more.