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Friday Night Youth Cricket is coming back to Donaghadee Cricket Club

Richard Carson

If you were in Donaghadee on Friday Night and looked out at the cold wet Northfield Cricket ground you would have had the impression that cricket would be the last thing on peoples mind. However for Donaghadee Cricket Club the winter has been very busy and things have already been set in motion for a very ambitious summer project to bring youth cricket back to the town.

"It has been too long since the town last had a youth cricket section" said Richard Carson, one of the Donaghadee coaches who are looking to take this project forward. "Historically we always had a good youth section and most of our senior players had filtered through those younger teams but for the last 10-15 years that hasn't happened. That is now hopefully going to change as we start this new project."

The club are going to run a Friday Night Cricket scheme at Northfield from June throughout the whole summer. Richard explained "At this stage we hope to have 3 different age groups, ages 6-7, 8-9 and 10-11. For around eight to ten Friday nights over the summer the children will be coached in Kwik Cricket." Kwik Cricket is a fun way of getting into cricket and developing your skills. The children learn how to bat, bowl, catch and throw. Cricket is all about balance, agility, hand-eye coordination so hopefully the children will learn these skills and most importantly they will have fun.

"Normally when the summer comes around some other sports clubs are shutting down for a well deserved few months rest. Well we will just be getting started! This is a great opportunity for parents to cure the summer boredom for their children. We aim to provide a safe outdoor environment where the children can run about, learn some new things and have some fun. By the end of the summer we will arrange a few friendly games with other clubs so that the children can put their new skills into action. We have an ambitious vision that the club will have 2 new youth teams competing in the NCU youth leagues by 2017. Friday Night Cricket will hopefully be a yearly event in the town and it is hoped that children who attend the scheme this summer will go on next year to play in the clubs youth teams"

Even to get to this early stage in the project development a lot of planning and preparation has been put in by the club. The club has been in discussions with Cricket Ireland to agree ways in which the club could develop and strengthen. After this successful meeting the club then produced a 5 year Development Plan which set out what the club wanted to achieve by 2020 and most importantly how they were going to do it. It was evident right from the outset that to ensure the club remained sustainable for the future they had to have a youth section.

Last year the club were successful in obtaining a small grant for funding from Sport NI and that money was used to put 6 coaches through their Cricket Ireland Level 1 course. 3 of those coaches are now in the process of taking their Level 2 badges. One of those coaches, Gavin Fraser, was one of the last players to have played for the Donaghadee youth teams. "Youth cricket at Donaghadee was brilliant fun for all the players back then. 15 years down the line we want to ensure that this generation of players get good coaching, have fun and have a long cricketing career with the club."

The club have also been in contact with local primary school and have offered a free cricket programme in the school which will span over a couple of weeks leading into the summer. This will be a first introduction for cricket for many children and a great way to start to learn the skills of the sport. Once this programme has finished the club then want to bring back Friday Night Cricket to the town.

"We aim to keep the cost of this Friday Night Scheme as low as possible" Richard said "but as with everything there will be a cost to set this up. We are basically starting from scratch here. At this point we have no equipment. To give the children the best coaching we possibly can we need the likes of Kwik Cricket balls, bats, stumps, nets etc."

It is a fairly ambitious project but one the club is fully committed to and one that the whole town can get behind. "Hopefully in 8-10 years time there will be a number of players playing for the senior teams who have progressed through the youth teams and we can look back to 2015 as the start of it all" said Gavin.

Over the next couple of months the club will be finalising details but if anyone would like any further information on the scheme or in ways they can get involved please contact the club through donaghadeecc@gmail.com or on 07540073845.