Igniting a sporting spark

As you may have gathered from some of my posts, I am a huge cricket fan. This has been a great summer for English cricket with England winning the men’s Cricket World Cup, the nail-biting men’s Ashes series and that edge-of-the-seat innings from Ben Stokes!

I am also passionate about children becoming involved in sport and in particular, girls – as a mother of a daughter myself, I’m keen for her to try as many sports as possible and not to feel as if any sport is a “boys’ sport” and something in which she can not participate. The English women’s cricket team have enjoyed some fantastic results - they’re World Cup winners too – and are proving to be fine role models for the younger generations.

I was thrilled to hear about a local 10 year old girl, Isabelle Rolfe, who has only recently taken up the sport of cricket but shown such flair that she was selected to play for Kent - what an achievement! I asked her a few questions about how she started cricket and how it made her feel. Please share it with your children – you never know, it might just light a sporting spark!

When did you first start to play cricket?
I started playing cricket towards the end of Year 4, but then cricket replaced rounders as a team sport at school at the start of year 5.

How did you find out about cricket in the first place? Are your parents sporty? Do they like cricket?
Dad used to play for his school and local club when he was younger and always likes to watch cricket. I sometimes watched cricket with Dad. I started playing at school, and then joined Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club in early summer this year.

How did you feel the first time you had a go? How did it feel holding the bat and waiting for the bowler to bowl at you?
It was exciting. But it was different from rounders so I had to work at holding the bat properly and standing in the right place. I also play hockey, and it’s very different from that too! I remember being excited to face the first ball bowled at me, although it was a little while before I learned how to hit the ball properly.

How did you feel at the end of your first match?
I didn’t want the first match to ever end! We won the first match against the school we were playing, so it was brilliant to have a win in the bag as well as get through the first proper match.

What made you want to play again?
Cricket is a great team game so it’s good to be out there with your friends and supporting each other. I like to play team sports and really enjoyed batting, so I was excited to be playing again.

How long had you been playing before you were asked to play for Kent?
I had been playing for a few months before I was selected to play for Kent against Surrey.

How did that make you feel?
It felt really special to be chosen to play for Kent. I was also a bit nervous as I hadn’t played much hard-ball cricket, so I needed to get used to playing in a helmet and pads, which you don’t use for soft-ball cricket. My school was very supportive too and let me train with boys playing hard-ball cricket. One of the other coaches at Tunbridge Wells helped with my batting, so it felt great that so many people were happy to help me.

Describe what your first cricket match for Kent was like - the match and your emotions.
The girls that had played for Kent already were really welcoming and helped me to join in quickly. David Sear is a great coach and we had some brilliant training before the game, in fielding, batting and bowling. When it came to the match, I was really nervous but all of the girls were cheering us on and being really supportive. Although we lost the match by only two runs it felt like a win as we had a few new players in our team, but it was a great day.

Do you have any cricketing heroes? Any role models?
I’m just starting to watch some professional cricket so I’m learning about the players, especially the England Women’s Team. The World Cup was exciting and I’ve watched some of the Ashes series with Dad too.

What would you say to a girl or boy who hasn’t played cricket before? How would you persuade them to give it a try?
Give it a try! It can feel difficult to start with but once you get used to the techniques and tactics it’s a brilliant game. Good luck!
Isabelle took part in the first Kent County girls’ under 10s cricket match against Surrey on 6 July, twenty years, almost to the day, since Kent had played its first girls’ under 11's match at the same ground: an achievement for Isabelle and a special day for Kent County girls’ cricket too!

Well done Isabelle and good luck with your cricketing career!

We’d love to hear stories about your children’s sporting achievements, big or small – their personal bests.

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