Upper Airedale Junior Cricket Association secretary Terry Thompson says it has never been more important for clubs to develop links with local primary schools than now.
In his report to the association’s annual meeting at Cononley Sports Club, he revealed junior sections at Glusburn, Pendle Forest and Ingrow had been lost in 2013 and that the way forward was more emphasis on developing junior academies.
He said: “Closer links with primary schools are essential, not optional, and a culture of coaching and training needs to be firmly established at all clubs.”
Thompson added that this local involvement was even more important, given the association’s dissatisfaction with the Yorkshire Cricket Board’s community coach provision for the Craven area and that the budget for the nationwide Chance To Shine programme has been slashed.
He explained: “Schools used to get Chance To Shine for nothing but now there is a £100 fee.”
On a much happier note, the UAJCA’s prominence on the YCB’s Pathways scheme is growing in leaps and bounds.
Thompson said: “The recognition from the YCB that we have a role to play in the wider Yorkshire cricketing consciousness is an amazing step forward.
“The North Yorkshire West Area Council have supported our UAJCA efforts to such a tune that each and every YCB director now knows that we exist and will be a force.
“We have the results of the 2013 YCB trials and the turnout of UAJCA players is remarkable.
“No less than 11 players (aged 11-15) have been offered places on the ‘West’ Pathways Coaching scheme. Additionally the retained list for 2013-14 includes nine UAJCA players.
“We had 29 boys attending trials (32 were nominated but one was ill, one injured and one failed to turn up) and so to get 11 of the 25 places available is a fantastic achievement for our boys.
“This success rate (11 from 29 at 38 per cent) significantly over-shadows the previous year when nine successes came from 50 nominations (18 per cent) – our starting benchmark.
“The total of 20 under coaching is, in my view, phenomenal. Our clubs and coaches should all be very proud of such a remarkable success in only our third season.”
Another UAJCA ambition is to have a local Pathways Centre and Thompson recognised that this bid had moved forward with the halfway house of a winter development centre at Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton.
Thompson said: “Increased success at YCB trials is the principal goal and to facilitate that we have franchised, for one year, the coaching input to the professionals at Pro Coach Academy, albeit at increased financial cost to parents.
“On Tuesday (of last week) I attended the centre (as indeed did YCB head of operations Andrew Watson) and witnessed 19 lads being put through their paces (five others were at YCB trials).
“I spoke with all the parents who stayed throughout the two-hour session and every one was delighted with the quality of tuition, the level of fun and dedication of the coaches.
“These developments essentially guarantee all elite players access to some high-quality coaching, whether they succeed at the trials or not.
“This is a radical new approach and is formally endorsed by Andrew Watson. UAJCA is in YCB eyes clearly the driver for this process and our progress is being monitored by YCB with a view to roll-out to other areas should we achieve our joint aims.” In addition, there is a need to focus coaching on players who are just below that high level.
Thompson said: “We propose to explore the introduction of a parallel improvement centre for those below elite level, with up to 64 places supported by a proposed new local coaching group.”