Young cricketers hone their skills over the winter months

The Newtownabbey Under-14 squad. INLT05-901-CON
The Newtownabbey Under-14 squad. INLT05-901-CON

Dozens of Newtownabbey’s best young cricketers have been busy perfecting their batting and bowling skills over the winter months.

Last year, Templepatrick and Cliftonville Cricket Clubs approached Newtownabbey Borough Council with plans to create a Winter Cricket Academy.

With the council’s backing, coaches from the two clubs have run a series of indoor coaching sessions over the past few months, offering Under-11 and Under-14 age players the chance to get in some practice ahead of the 2014 cricket season.

The youth coaching programme has also been supported by the University of Ulster, which has hosted the sessions at its superb multi-purpose indoor sports facility at its Jordanstown campus.

Coaching sessions have been run under the guidance of the clubs’ Cricket Development Officers, Andy McCrea (Templepatrick) and Andy McCulloch (Cliftonville), backed up by other qualified coaches from both clubs.

“We are delighted with how the scheme has gone,” said McCrea. “There has been coaching for Under-14 and Under-11 age groups, and all the coaches have been impressed by the progression made by the players in the intense sessions over the weeks. Their work ethic and learning skills have been a credit to them and they will definitely enter the new season better prepared.”

“This has been a great opportunity for the boys not only to improve their skills, but to do so in a format outside of their own club, working in another environment, with other coaches and other players,” McCulloch added. “We can see how much the boys have bought into this scheme and put their all into it - soaking up as much information as possible.”

Both clubs have expressed their appreciation for the support of Newtownabbey Borough Council and the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.

“We are very grateful for their assistance with promoting cricket development in the local area and we look forward to progressing these links in as many ways as possible in the years ahead,” commented McCrea.