It was one of the successes of last summer but now All Stars Cricket is back in 2018 and it’s bigger and better.
Last year across Wales more than 2,000 children aged five to eight were introduced to All Stars– an innovation from the England and Wales Cricket Board to give children a great first experience to play the sport.
All Stars Cricket gives children all of the skills – such as batting, bowling, throwing and catching – they need to develop a healthy attitude towards exercise.
In all there are 130+ centres across Wales from Menai Bridge in the north, Pembroke Dock in the south West to Newport Pirates in the east are giving children an introduction to cricket through an eight-week programme. That is up from 93 clubs last year.
It is so easy to sign up and there will be centre near you! Just click here to sign up https://ecb.clubspark.uk/AllStars/SearchResults
The All Stars programme has been important to clubs all over Wales, particularly in North Wales for clubs like Dolgellau.
“In terms of cricket development this is probably the best thing the England and Wales Cricket Board has brought in in my lifetime,” insisted Dolgellau Cricket Club All Stars Activator, Gareth Lanagan.
“It means we are getting kids at an early age we will see the future cricketers of our area.
“If you go to England there is a lot of village clubs that are thriving but there are a lot of places around Dolgellau, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth which don’t have any clubs anymore.
“The sessions are all about giving kids a chance to play cricket in an area maybe where they wouldn’t get that chance and it’s creating a buzz about cricket.”
In Dinas Powys, All Stars Lead Activator Stuart Jones believes All Stars has breathed new life into underage cricket.
“At the beginning of the programme last year we were anticipating 10 to 15 kids but the way it was marketed by the ECB we ended up with 41,” said Stuart.
“Those numbers are fantastic for such a small club. Football finishes in the summer so this came just at the right time for us. It’s been a great benefit for us. It was a no brainer – this will rejuvenate the club.
Mark Ellis, junior coordinator with Barry Athletic, added: “All Stars has been a brilliant way of getting kids involved who were not involved before.
“I went around promoting All Stars to the schools around Barry and we had 70 kids who have joined the club who wouldn’t have joined before.
“It is an opportunity that wouldn’t have been there before and the ECB have ploughed through and really supported the programme.
In the Swansea area Clydach, Mumbles, Gorseinon, Gowerton, Llangennech, Morriston Pontardawe, Swansea, and Ynystawe cricket clubs will all be running programmes in 2018.
“We were very happy to be one of the first clubs to introduce this,” Nicola Harris, Junior Organiser at Mumbles Cricket Club.
“We already have a healthy junior section at Mumbles with around 150 members but there has been nothing for five to eight-year-olds, so this is a welcome addition and means the younger children can now have a chance to get involved in cricket.”
Last year Ammanford attracted 65 youngsters to the inaugural weekend of All Stars – more than any other club in Wales.
“The fact we attracted 65 young children to All Stars was absolutely phenomenal,” said Ammanford Cricket Club’s junior organiser Clare Hope.
“The parents have been fantastic and everyone is really on board with the programme and the next eight weeks were a real boost for Ammanford Cricket to sustain its future.”
Richard Jones, the All Stars Lead Activator at Newport Fugitives, believes All Stars has provided a platform to for children to learn a new sport and get involved in cricket.
“Newport is a family-orientated club and we want to get the children playing and hopefully in years to come thy will be playing for the first, second or third team,” explained Richard.
“We had 50 to 60 young children in 2017, some of them holding a bat for the first time, really enjoying themselves during the programme and getting to learn what cricket is about.
“What has impressed me about the All Stars programme is that the children are learning the basic techniques that underpin cricket. And the hope is that they will go on and play for Newport Fugitives long into the future.”
Mike Maguire, Monmouth’s All Stars Lead Activator and also the club’s Chairman, said: “It’s important to me for young children to be involved in cricket at such a young age because I didn’t have that opportunity at such a young age.
“We had 36 children sign up and what it means to the club is it brings some new talent coming through and there is a new vibe and a new energy that it is needed by any club.”
By registering for All Stars Cricket, children will be guaranteed eight weeks of jam-packed fun, activity and skills development.
The enjoyment which the children get out of it is impressive, and the core skills which they learn are useful in a wide variety of sport, not just cricket - like rugby, football, netball, hockey and tennis.
It also teaches children the spirit of cricket – the importance of respecting others – and how to communicate and work as a team.
Every child that registers for the All Stars Cricket programme will receive a bonus participant pack, including a backpack, cricket bat, cricket ball, personalised shirt, cap, and activity book.
The clubs running the scheme this year are found here: https://ecb.clubspark.uk/AllStars/SearchResults. Parents can type in their town or postcode to find one that suits them and sign up their child.