Pupils from Angmering School had a day to remember last week as they travelled to London to take part in the Lord’s Taverners National Table Cricket Finals.
The West Sussex school’s side were one of nine to compete in the Nursery Pavilion, at Lord’s Cricket Ground, for the right to call themselves national champions.
The event, which was made possible thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and Ford, is now in its 19th year and, working with 30 county cricket boards across the UK, more than 300 schools took part in the 10 regional heats to qualify for the finals.
Angmering eventually finished third in the finals and 13-year-old pupil Jamie Chappell could not contain his excitement at playing at the home of cricket.
He said: “I think it is a great sport to play because anybody can do it. I have played for three years and it has really helped to build my teamwork and communication skills.
“I have met a lot of new people and that shows what an inclusive sport it is. I cannot wait to play in another event like this. I love batting and trying to beat the fielders to score lots of runs.”
Played on a table tennis table with side panels and sliding fielders, a ball launcher, weighted plastic ball and wooden bat, table cricket enables young people with severe physical and learning disabilities to enjoy cricket and represent their school on a competitive basis.
The game not only gives opportunities for competitive play and social integrations, it also improves life-skills including self-confidence, independence and social skills.
And PE teacher Nat Webb revealed to sport has given her pupils a great opportunity to express themselves.
She said: “All the children have been itching to play. They were all up bright and early to get down here and take part.
“Table cricket is about giving the opportunity to children who may not be able to play other sports and express themselves. It provides so much more than just a sport for these children and they will cherish this day for the rest of their lives.”
Watching on as the school competed at Lord’s was Radio 1 DJ, cricket lover and member of Lord’s Taverners Greg James.
And he was excited to see the charity making cricket available to people of all abilities.
“I’ve never seen table cricket before on this sort of scale and it’s been brilliant,” he said.
“I’ve seen it in videos and heard all about it, but to see hundreds of kids from all over the country in one place, just enjoying it and having a day playing cricket at Lord’s, it doesn’t really get any better than that.
“There are kids who love cricket, but also some who just like the team element of it all, the community aspect.
“What I love about it, is that it’s not exclusive to people and it has its own fans.”
The Lord’s Taverners is the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity whose aim is to give disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance – go to www.lordstaverners.org to find out more.