A GRANT from the David Shepherd Cricket Trust has helped Kingsbridge’s expanding youth section prepare for the season ahead.
The South Hams club has added an under-10 team to the youth section for 2016, making six teams competing in the Wollen Michelmore South Devon League.
Kingsbridge were entitled to claim a £600 grant after winning a membership competition run by the Trust.
The U10s, as the newest kids on the block, were first to get in the nets before Christmas at the Quayside Leisure Centre in Kingsbridge to start working on the skills they need.
The other Kingsbridge sides are at U12, U13, U14, U15 and U17 level. All of them have had practice time organised by head coach James Ford.
“We spent more than £1,000 putting the nets on over the winter and the grant from the David Shepherd Cricket Trust proved invaluable,” said club chairman Neal Peach.
Peach said close to a hundred youngsters are enrolled in the club’s youth section, which has been crucial to the sustainability of the club for more than three decades.
“Go back 35 years and we had just one youth team – the U14s – which got to the final of the county cup and lost,” said Peach.
“I played and so did Clive Clarke. He is 2nd XI captain and I am chairman now.
“James Westlake came through the youth teams and at 22 is captain of the 1st XI.
“Last season we had four of five of the U15 side in the 2nd XI most Saturdays. I would hope a few of them will step into the 1st XI this year.
“A town club like ours can’t thrive unless we produce our own players.
“Some will move away, others will stop playing cricket, but if we retain three or four from every age group we will have done well.”
The Trust was set up six years ago in memory of former Devon cricketer and Test match umpire David Shepherd.
The Trust’s mission is to support and promote youth cricket at all levels of participation, not just the elite but at grass roots clubs such as Kingsbridge.
To apply for a grant, visit the Trust’s website www.dsct111.org.uk then click the drop-down menu titled supporting youth cricket.
Up at the Butts, preparations are well under way for the season ahead.
New pitch covers costing around £5,000 are on their way, helped by a grant of £3,000 from the England & Wales Cricket Board.
The club has been accepted into the NatWest CricketForce scheme, which has given them access to £350 of materials from building merchants Jewson to use on pavilion and ground maintenance.