Sport is no different to people when it comes to first impressions. When we present a sport to someone, whether it be a child or an adult, the first impression we give is likely to live long in the memory bank much like when we meet a person for the first time.
When I think back to my own time at school, there is one sport that sticks in my mind for the first impression it gave me and I've heard numerous others with similar tales. The sport in question being Hockey. As a now rational thinking adult, i can't think of anything about Hockey that doesn't appeal to me. Running about, whacking a ball with a stick, playing in a team and scoring goals just about ticks every box. However, my first impression of hockey was that it was always played in freezing conditions with ancient hockey sticks with the grip unravelling and aftershocks in your wrists after hitting what felt like a boulder with a lump hammer. The sport, through no fault of its own, lost me there and then forever.
It is for this reason that we created Class Cricket. Cricket is a major sport in Britain but its popularity has been in freefall for quite a few years. Anyone who has taught Sport in Primary School can probably shed some light on why. There are many, many sports out there now competing for the attention of youngsters and, largely, they are winning. The problem for Cricket is that most of these other sports are very easy to adapt in order to be inclusive, fun and challenging. This is where Class Cricket enables Cricket to compete with the likes of Football, Netball, Rugby, Dodgeball and Basketball for popularity among young children.
For that reason we have been taking our Class Cricket game to Schools for free wherever we can. I've been working in PE and School Sport for more than 10 years now and the Class Cricket game is one of the most popular activities that I have ever seen in a PE lesson. The feedback from the children is so positive, we are constantly asked if they can play it again. Getting the children to have a positive experience with the sport at this age is key for participation, development and creating a long term passion.
We are serious about significantly increasing the number of children that love the sport. Cricket is a great sport, it just needs to keep up with the times. We are excited about the prospect of the All Stars Cricket initiative created by the ECB, it's fantastic that this age range is finally being targetted by Cricket's governing body rather than letting other Sports get in there first. I just hope that the first impressions of Cricket that the children experience at their All Stars sessions are as impressive as the Marketing campaign.