Lisneal leading the way on Schools cricket front
While a lot of the recent focus has been on the International stage, there is just as much good news emerging from further down the cricket chain and this week we were at Lisneal College as the girls Under-13 league continued at the Waterside venue.
Lisneal entertained Foyle College on Thursday morning and we caught up with Coaches, Chris Wilson and Keith Ferguson to discuss their progress in both the boys and girls game, and to hear about next week’s school cricket tour to the UK.
Chris played his own cricket at Fox Lodge and was heavily involved in keeping the sport alive at Clondermott High School where he worked until the amalgamation with Faughan Valley in 2007.
“There has been cricket played at Lisneal since Day One” he began. “Both schools did play cricket before the amalgamation, but never to the extent that it is now.”
“We fought hard to ensure there would be a cricket pitch at the new Lisneal facility and you can see the benefits of that today.”
“In the early days we didn’t have the numbers playing that the big Grammar Schools would have had, but over the years we’ve built it up, and with the co-operation of the local clubs and the NWCU, we’re now more than competing on every level- u-12, 13, 14 and 15.”
“Our u-12’s are in a semi-final this week against Grosvenor- Andrew White’s school- and our u-13’s have already won their regionalised tournament against Enniskillen, Foyle and Strabane Academy.”
“Our u-14’s won this week against Campbell College and play Belfast Royal Academy next week while the u-15’s play Wallace High School on Friday at Newbuildings and also have Strabane Academy waiting in the u-15 School’s Cup.”
“We’re very lucky to have the flow of young club cricketers that we do. In the past it may have just been a couple from Glendermott and Brigade, but now we have players from both those clubs plus Bready, Eglinton and a very strong Newbuildings input and we are fortunate to have a great relationship with the clubs and the NWCU.”
Chris explained how the new girls team has been developed in partnership with the NWCU:
“What you’re seeing here today is the first u-13 girls league; this was a North West Cricket Union initiative at both u-13 and u-15 levels, so I have to thank Kathryn, Peter, Mollie and Sarah for that.”
“Girls cricket was a natural progression for us with the boys already playing. In more recent years all schools might, particularly in the younger age groups, have had 8-9 boys and 2-3 girls which was great. Now however, there’s enough girls playing for them to have their own league as well.”
“You can see here today how popular that is and we’re determined to keep girls cricket moving forward too.”
Smash It Activators
Last month, pupils from the school were trained by NWCU staff to become ‘Smash It’ Activators and helped David Scanlon with his successful Primary Schools Smash It Blitzes. The pupils proved excellent ambassadors for Lisneal and are now helping to bring on an even younger generation of cricketers in local primary schools. Kathryn Rough explained how beneficial
“Lisneal kindly provided 16 student volunteers who helped run Smash It Blitzes with us. This was a great success and empowered these young people to show their leadership skills and provided inspiration to local primary school children. They are all a real credit to Lisneal.”
The trip at the end of this month has been something of an annual event (except for covid restrictions in the past two years) and will see Lisneal’s under-14 side play their counterparts from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn and then again against Arnold King Edward School in Lytham-St Annes.
“It’s something we started a while ago- actually it goes back to doing a football tour at the very start- and then thinking ‘this would be great for a cricket tour’.
“We play the school games on Thursday and Saturday and we’re also going to Headingley for Yorkshire against the Birmingham Bears where we might get to see Paul Stirling.”
“We could have taken three teams this year with the number of kids wanting to go and indeed we might well look into hiring a second minibus next time and bringing over a girls team as well.”
“These are all nice problems to have and our plan is to keep going, keep working hard and making sure that cricket at Lisneal keeps getting stronger.”