(Photo: Nick Webster / Sportsbeat)
By Ross Lawson
ENGLAND captain Joe Root is adamant disability cricket in the country can only get stronger thanks to the expansion of the Super1s programme.
Super1s – an initiative of the Lord’s Taverners – gives young people aged 12-25 with disabilities the chance to regularly play cricket, creating community cricket hubs for young people to receive coaching from county cricket boards.
Participants also get the chance to compete against peers and enjoy the benefits of sport and an active lifestyle – with the programme now reaching beyond London and into wider reaches of England.
Part of that saw England skipper Root undergo a net of a different sort at The Oval, testing his skills out against wheelchair user and Super1s player and coach Sam Alderson – more than impressed by the challenge at hand.
“It was really good fun actually, there were some great skills – different skills – shown by Sam and I think it’s great to see the chances the Super1s are presenting people,” he said.
“In cricket, you’re learning about how you can be part of a working environment, how you can be part of a team and that plays a massive part in learning how you can help others and work with others to get the results you want.
“You have to overcome challenges along the way in cricket, you sometimes have to stand up against adversity and your mind is tested a lot of the time, so I think all those qualities can be hugely beneficial in normal life, not just in sport and not just in cricket.
“When I was a kid I grew up loving cricket for what it was – just because you have a disability, it shouldn’t mean that you can’t play the game and it’s great that the Lord’s Taverners and others are opening the sport up to people that may not have been able to play before.
“When it comes to cricket, you want to give it to the wider area and with the Super1s, we’ve seen that’s already happened in London and it’s great to see that spread across the UK.
“The more opportunities we give, the better we’ll be for it and that can only be good for the game for everyone.”
Super 1s provides young people with a chance to realise their potential, both on and off the pitch, enabling them to discover what they can do, not what they can’t, and become role models for their peers.
Now the programme – which started in four London boroughs and now operates in them all – is expanding, with Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Yorkshire among the next areas set to benefit from the initiative.
And with county and regional finals held at iconic venues including Edgbaston, Emirates Old Trafford and Lord’s itself, there is certainly the opportunity for skills to hit the spotlight.
“For these guys, Super1s gets them out, it gives them friendships and competitive sport so it has all the wonderful benefits that sport can bring,” explained Paul Robin, Lord’s Taverners CEO.
“It’s expanding too, we’re delighted to be moving across different locations across the UK, we’re going outside of London and heading to Birmingham and Manchester and we’re keen to see how that goes.
“You just have to see the smiles on the kids’ faces to see how much they’re enjoying this, how much they’re getting out of this and how much they’re loving sport.
“The decision for a child with learning disabilities to stop, field the ball, decide which end to throw at and then execute accurately is a massive one to make and it can be so big to their entire life development.
“I’ve had a parent tell me about a child who doesn’t like getting out of the car, sometimes taking hours before going, but now he’s almost got his seatbelt off before the handbrake is up – that’s how much he wants to be taking part.”