Beech Academy crowned table cricket champions
Pupils from Beech Academy had a day to remember last week as they were crowned the 2022 champions at the Lord's Taverners National Table Cricket Finals and met England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
Young people with disabilities from Beech Academy (Nottinghamshire) had a day to remember last week as they were crowned the 2022 Lord's Taverners National Table Cricket Finals and met England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
The Mansfield-based school's side were one of ten to compete at Lord's Cricket Ground for the right to call themselves national champions, with Brimsham Green School (Gloucestershire), Greenfield School (Wales), William Howard School (Cumbria), Bradley Stoke School (Gloucestershire), The Clare School (Norfolk), Grange Park School (Kent), Sandfield Park School (Lancashire) and Abingdon and Witney College (Oxfordshire) all winning their regional heats to qualify for finals day. But it was Beech Academy who beat off a strong challenge from Yorkshire's Ralph Thoresby School in a memorable final to lift the title.
Beech Academy Teacher Georgia Baker, 27, loves how inclusive table cricket is for her students: "For us, inclusivity is everything. It is one of our core values at school as well. To be able to include everyone at that table and allow them to be part of a team is great.
"We have got age ranges from 12-18 who have not had the opportunity to even see each other let alone play a sport together, so for us inclusivity is massive."
Over 100 schools and 1,000 young people with disabilities took part in the county and regional qualifiers to book their place for Finals Day of the competition, now into its 22nd year, which is made possible thanks to the support of Ford, players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and the England & Wales Cricket Board.
An adapted form of cricket played on table tennis table, table cricket takes all the aspects of mainstream cricket, providing a more inclusive and accessible form which allows young people with a wide range of disabilities to participate, meet new friends and have fun.
The game not only promotes teamwork and sportsmanship in an enjoyable environment, it also improves life skills such as self-confidence, independence and social integration.
Pupil Louise Morley, 18, was happy to get the chance to compete at a high level: "I got involved with table cricket because I thought it would be exciting and competitive. It is just a great opportunity to compete against everyone. I enjoy working together with my teammates and just enjoying the experience while doing it. But also winning games as well. I'm also very happy to be representing the school."
Watching on at Lord's was England wicket-keeper Ben Foakes, as well as Sussex and Southern Vipers captain Georgia Adams. And Foakes was delighted to see the sport bringing so many people together.
"I think, especially after what's been going on with COVID-19, this is just a great opportunity to get together,” said Foakes, speaking at Lord’s where he watched nearly 70 young people with disabilities from 10 schools across the country represent their schools compete for the title of the National Table Cricket Champion 2022.
"I think some of these guys were probably hit the hardest in that isolation and in that lockdown period. So, I just think it's great, everyone being able to get out and enjoy it and enjoying that team aspect of sport that cricket provides. It's been fantastic to see it, and I think it looks like it's going from strength to strength. It's just been awesome."
Watch Ben Foakes being taught how to play table cricket by members of the Ralph Thoresby (Leeds) team below.
To find out more about table cricket and get involved, click here.