By Fi Isaacs, Bear Flat CC Secretary: Bear Flat Cricket Club (The Bears) has always been proud of the strength of its ties with the local community.
In 2019 The Bears participated in the ECB All Stars cricket programme for 5-8 year olds. At this early stage the club decided to raise sponsorship to offer places to children who would not ordinarily be able to participate due to a lack of funding.
The club worked with heads of schools to identify those children it was thought would benefit most. Five schools were offered two places each and that has continued throughout the time we have been facilitating the All Stars programme.
Three years on, The Bear Cubs was launched. Bear Cubs is for 9-11 year olds and the programme consists of coaching, playing games and participating in youth tournaments across Somerset.
Never a club to rest on its laurels, The Bears considered what could be done to further enhance the cricketing experience of youngsters in the local community.
The brainchild of Mark Gunning, Club Captain, and Schools coach, The Bears opted to fund a programme which would provide an introduction to cricket in local schools to give children the chance to experience the beautiful game of cricket. Mark is well known across Bath and has done much to promote the Bears in schools. “What we wanted to do was raise awareness that cricket is an inclusive sport open to all, and wanted to give children the opportunity to try cricket and hopefully fall in love with it”.
Enter stage right Ollie Cox; (pictured) a Bears player and coach, with a passion for cricket and a desire to coach. Ollie started off coaching the All Stars as a volunteer in 2019, progressing to Assistant Coach in 2021.
Ollie is studying sports coaching and exercise science on a course run by Gloucester University.
When pressed as to why he chose that particular career, he thought for a while and said, “When I realised I couldn’t be a professional footballer, aged 12, I thought how next best I could be involved in sport. That’s when I decided to become a coach”.
Ollie now delivers regular sessions to Oldfield Park Infants, Combe Down Primary and St Philips schools, all free of charge.
Ollie works closely with class teachers with the aim that children learn the skills of a cricketer in curriculum time.
“I deliver a fun session, with warm up games, cricket practice, team games etc, but also teaching life skills such as good communication skills and team building.
“It would be great if some of the children decided to join us for the All Stars programme in May up at The Glasshouse”.
Reaction from teachers and pupils has been complementary, supportive and positive. If successful at the end of the trial period, it is likely this programme will become part of The Bears youth programme strategy going forwards.
Ollie is a qualified ECB coach, DBS certified, first aid qualified with safeguarding level 1, level 2 underway, prevent training and safe hands club child welfare.
If your child is interested in All Stars cricket register here: https://ecb.clubspark.uk/AllStars/Course/408400bd-ec66-44c6-a93c-279b45c088e5
There is more on the club at https://bearflatcc.org.uk/