A Notts cricket club is hoping to expand its youth section by bowling over pupils inside and outside the class room.
Blidworth Colliery Welfare Cricket Club has been selected by Sport Nottinghamshire as a satellite club to help promote activity and participation in teenagers and young adults.
Students from Joseph Whitaker School in Rainworth will learn cricket fundamentals and develop skills from the club’s coaches over a ten-week course through March and April.
It is hoped the course will stimulate an interest and pupils will look to play cricket outside of school through the summer months and join Blidworth CWCC’s youth set-up.
The initiative is one part of the club’s effort to establish a youth programme to supplement the senior side in years to come, with under-13s and under-15s teams.
Chris Gent, Blidworth CWCC’s fundraising manager, highlighted an increase in youth membership as the club’s “number one priority” over the next three years.
He said: “My lad’s been there for the last seven or eight years and when he turned up there were only two or three kids there. Then I watched it grow from these two or three young lads to 30-40 young kids turning up on a Friday evening and playing. But it didn’t last, that coach then left.
“There have been a few peaks and troughs. We’ve had as many as 50 kids up there having a practice and we were able to put a few teams out. Now, another coach has gone, and we’re at a low ebb where we need to get it going again.
“We had some ‘quick cricket’ games last season for kids aged six-11. But we’re looking to rebuild the whole youth structure. We’ve appointed a new coach who is going to come in and try to rebuild that youth section. We’ve got a dozen kids who come along, mainly because their families are part of the club.”
And added: “Kids of today have got so many other things they can do whereas 20-30 years ago there wasn’t much more to do than to turn up at weekends with your dad and play cricket. It is a difficult sport to keep the interest going but we’re trying and we want to develop our youth section.”
The club, based at the Blidworth Miners Welfare Social Centre on Burma Road, had two senior sides compete in the Bassetlaw & District Cricket League last year.
As well as being the home of the cricket club, the centre also accommodates the village’s football, bowls and brass band enthusiasts - helping to create a community spirit.
“It was the cricket club that rebuilt this community centre,” he said. “When the coal mines finished there was a huge miners welfare that was at the centre of the mining community and that got knocked down, so the cricket club, being the main club at the time, were the ones to bring it from the ashes.
“I can see the spirit in the community and it would be a shame for it all to fizzle out.
“It’s one of the best grounds and cricket surfaces you’ll get. We decided a year ago that we needed to refurbish our practice facilities because the nets were falling apart. As a club we’ve got together £10,000 through various fundraising events, local grants and donations and we’ve actually fitted two brand new artificial twin-laned batting nets.”
And, with the same determination, the community is yet to call time on its future.