This summer, for the second consecutive year Uppingham Town Cricket Club hosted a Lord’s Taverners pro/celebrity charity cricket match. Included in the line-up on the pitch was former Leicester Tigers and Rugby World Cup winner, Neil Back, former Leicestershire cricketer, Paul Nixon and star of Harry Potter films, Oliver Phelps aka George Weasley.
As part of the pre-match fun, netball was invited and to represent it we ran some sessions to get people young and old to “have a go” and promote just what our game is all about. Loughborough Lightning star, Lauren Nicholl, Val Kindred, Leicestershire’s County Development Officer, Jo Stephenson, Umpiring Secretary for East Midlands Region and Leicestershire County and Melissa Croxall of TFC Netball Club gave up their time and turned out in force to showcase the sport. They attracted no less than 60 people both male and female ranging from 3 to 72 years young over course of the afternoon.
As families wandered past the volunteers lured them in by posing a shooting challenge. Sons took on mums and granddaughters took on grandparents. Ladies who said “ooh I haven’t played since school”; guys questioning whether it was “just for girls” and grannies doubting that they might just be too old, were all encouraged to take part. With some on-the-spot coaching tips, a few minutes of practice and a whole heap of encouragement each passer-by surpassed their own expectation and without fail enjoyed their foray into the sport. Melissa’s mum and 8 year old son took great pleasure in beating her (only just) even if Melissa’s netball colleagues resorted to a bit of post-wobbling and general sabotage.
Winners left with a medal and a spring in their step and perhaps a little more interest and appreciation of the game. Even though the highlight of the afternoon was seeing all the smiles, laughter and enjoyment on the faces of those taking part, the biggest grin must have been reserved for Jo when she managed a photo with Oliver Phelps and was just a little star struck!