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The Organisation of Youth Cricket in Wales

Overall responsibility for youth cricket in Wales rests with Cricket Wales which is one of thirty-nine County Boards over which English & Wales Cricket Board.  It works in partnership with Glamorgan County Cricket Club and Sports Council Wales (SC and is the single governing body for the junior and senior recreational game in Wales.

The overall development of youth cricket is overseen by the Director of Cricket, Peter Hybart, and administered by nine regional committees. The committee relevant to our part of Wales covers the unitary authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen. It is responsible for drawing up a programme of coaching, coach education and competition opportunities (ie leagues, cups, county fixtures) and seeking grant-aid funding and sponsorship to help support these activities and ensuring they are run successfully.

This role is carried out by the Gwent Association of Cricket Coaches (GACC) which consists of a number of qualified coaches who devote much of their leisure time to the development of our young cricketers.  Gwent Young Cricketers is the name under which  our county  teams  play  and  our competitions  are  organised.  The officers of the GACC are: Graham Burgess (Chairman), Andrew Van de Weyer (Secretary) and Ted Tipper (Treasurer).  Ted also acts as the Coaching Organiser , League/Shield Organiser and Gwent Young Cricketers Fixture Secretary and Paul Morgan is the Child Welfare Officer.  Steve Watkins is the Region’s Cricket Development Officer employed by the Cricket Wales.

How Youth Cricket is financed

It costs around £45,000 per year to fund all the youth cricket activities run in Gwent of which around 25% is funded by grants, from Cricket Wales and SCW, and sponsorship while the remaining 75% comes from parental and club contributions. Unfortunately, the 'age of austerity' has seen a decline in our grant funding which has increased the pressure on our ability to maintain our winter coaching and summer county match programmes.  An indication of the sort of costs involved can be seen inthe latter. In 2014, it cost around £17,000 out of which the parental contribution was £7,000 and we received grant-funding of about £7,000.  This left a shortfall of £3,000 which was made up from our own fund-raising and reserves built up over many years for just such an occasion. The problem is we only get grant aid for seven matches per age group, of which five must be played against other Welsh Regions, so that we make a deficit of approximately £120 on any games over this limit. The irony is that one of the reasons we are so successful in producing so many players who play for Wales and Glamorgan CC is that we have an established fixture list with English counties who are much stronger than most of the other Welsh Regions and play in the same competitions as the Wales National sides.

How Youth Coaching is organised in Gwent

Every August the youth organisers of clubs are asked to nominate players who will be interested in attending coaching sessions the following January-March.  The Coaching Organiser then has to carry out a complicated logistical exercise to try to ensure each of the fifteen sessions at different age groups are equally supported and that individuals do not have too far to travel to a nominated centre (Ebbw Vale, Caerleon or Newport). Each year over 300 invitations are sent out. Experience has shown us that only about two-thirds reply but it is impossible to predict who they will be and which venue they will wish to go to. Further adjustments may then have to be carried out and coaches booked on the approximate ratio of one coach for every six/eight players.   In 2014 we coached around 150 players in our winter coaching sessions.

The boys sessions are divided up into five age-group ‘main’ squads (Under 12,13,14,15) plus four ‘support’ squad sessions (at Under 12/13 and Under 14/15). The four main squads consist of players who performed well the previous year but members of the support squads can be promoted at any time if they show the appropriate level of skill and commitment.

The Under 11’s are treated rather differently. All those who have played hardball cricket the previous summer are invited to one of two non-selective sessions; the selection of a main county squad is not made until Easter. The same happens with our Under 10’s although selection is made much harder as we haven’t had the opportunity to see most of them play outside.

The coaching sessions are held at centres in Ebbw Vale, Newport and Caerleon.

Competitions

 These consist of the following:-

  • The Monmouthshire Building Society Youth Cricket League which consists of ten Divisions at three age-groups (U11, U13, U15) and is open to clubs throughout the Region.  In 2015, there are 78 teams from 26 clubs.  At Under 11, there is a Premier Division plus two regionalised First Divisions.  They all play the ‘Pairs’ form of the game.  At Under 13, clubs have the option to enter teams under the Pairs or 20-over formats; there are two regionalised Divisions catering for teams playing both formats.  At Under 15, there is a Premier Division plus two regionalised First Divisions.

  • The Monmouthshire Building Society Youth Cricket Shield which is a knockout competition at the same age groups. All age-groups play the same 20-over game and the finals are held consecutively on the same day on the same ground at the end of August or beginning of September.  This year they will take place on 30th August at Malpas CC.

  • The Cricket Wales Under 13 and Under Cups for which clubs who are affiliated to Cricket Wales are entitled to enter. Gwent has had the following Welsh champions :-

    Under 13 - Newport (1980, 1983, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010)

    Under 15 - Blackwood (2005), Ebbw Vale (1989), Newport (1982, 2006, 2007), Sudbrook (1992, 1999)

    Newport were the UK National U13 Champions in 2005 and 2010 and U15 Runners-up in 2007.

Gwent Girls

Youth Cricket in Gwent is completely ‘open’ throughout with girls able to play in all competitions.  The game is as much a girls’ game as it a boys’ with the only difference being in the ‘strength’ activities such as fast bowling and six-hitting which manifests itself as they move into adulthood. 

Gwent Girls was formed in 2003 and started playing initially at the U13 Colwall Festival. In 2008, for the first time, a team of girls was entered as Gwent Girls in the The Monmouthshire Building Society Youth Cricket League at Under 11 with the girls still being able to play in the mixed teams of their clubs. Two years later an Under 13 Gwent Girls team was added to the League.  However, while Gwent was producing a good number of talented girls the overall numbers playing were not enough at each club to set up all-girls teams.  In 2011 Newport CC took up the challenge to enter their own teams in the League.  As no other Club was doing this, most of the girls then gravitated to Newport CC so it was decided that Gwent Girls would withdraw from the League.

Also in 2011, the Welsh National League for teams from the Welsh Regions was introduced at Under 13 and Gwent were the inaugural champions going through the season unbeaten; a feat they repeated the following year.  In 2013, the Under 13s completed a hat-trick of national titles while the Under 15s were also Wales champions.  However, across Wales the take up of cricket by girls was very patchy and, even in Regions such as Gwent where talented players were being developed, there was not the 'critical mass' of players needed to make all-girls leagues a possibility.  So, in 2014, Cricket Wales made the decision to withdraw funding for girls cricket from the Regions and concentrate on running National Development Centres across Wales as a means to develop the game.

This meant the end of Gwent Girls as an entity but Newport CC has established itself as one of the premier clubs for girls cricket throughout the UK and, in 2014, were the Lady Taverners UK National Champions at both Under 13 and Under 15 Levels.  This year their Women's team reached the ECB Women's UK Club Finals.  Nearly all the girls and women involved started out as Gwent Girls.  Also, in 2016, 14 girls, who play their cricket in Gwent, represented Wales at age groups from Under 12 to Under 17 while three who played for Gwent Girls back in 2008 - Georgia Parfitt, Nicole Reid and Charlotte Scarborough - were chosen to take part in the England Women's U15 Development Programme.

So for any girl who has the enthusiasm, talent and commitment there is a clear pathway to enable her to fulfil her potential.  The first step is to join a local club where she can learn and play in a 'mixed' environment.  If then she has aspirations to play for the Wales age group teams parents should contact Ted Tipper at gwentyouthcricket@btinternet.com.  Also, If she would like to play in an all-girls team please contact the Newport CC head coach Mike Knight at mike.knight2@ntlworld.com.

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