From Sussex Super 1s to England
Alfie Pyle, a Super 1s participant, coach and Sussex D40 cricketer, has become the first Super 1s participant to play for England!
He made his debut for the England learning disability (LD) side versus Australia during the tri-series currently taking place in South Africa being contested by the hosts, England and Australia.
It was a winning start to his England career with the Sussex man contributing 5 not out when batting at 6, as England posted 171-5 off their 20 overs. This proved to be a match winning score for the three lions as they won their first game of the tri-series by 63 runs.
Alfie, who lives with a speech disorder and a learning disability, was bullied throughout his time at secondary school, which hugely knocked his self-esteem and confidence. He found it hard to build relationships with his peers and struggled to make friends at school, often finding himself alone throughout the school day. However, with support and the discovery of Super 1s in Crawley during 2019 that all began to change.
Sussex Disability Development Officer at the time, Aroop Tanna, recruited him through a Super 1s taster session at his college in June 2019 and it became apparent very quickly that he had exceptional cricket ability. Alfie’s confidence also grew to such a level that it became clear he had the potential to become a great cricket coach as well as a very talented player.
Alfie was already supporting All Stars sessions at his local cricket club, Ifield CC, when he joined Super 1s and was swiftly given responsibility for running warm up activities at the Crawley hub as well. He supports his Super 1s coaches by working with participants to work on bowling and batting technique. It’s very rare for Alfie to miss a session.
Later in 2019, Alfie started attending a new Super 1s club at his college. He went out of his way to help peers and his very obvious natural coaching ability led to being recruited as an Assistant Coach volunteer where he ran the warm-up activity and supported the more able participants.
Following lockdown, Alfie returned to his Coaching Assistant role supporting two new, and slightly nervous, younger recruits to help them settle in with the group. He also successfully completed the ECB Foundation 1 coaching course, which will enable him to join the Sussex Cricket casual coach and be allocated paid coaching assignments across Sussex Cricket’s different community projects.
A particularly big moment for him was recently being invited to return to his secondary school and become a PE Technician volunteer. He enjoyed setting up the PE sessions and helping within them - overcoming the horrible memory of his previous school experience and turning it into a new positive one.
Once Alfie finishes at college, his dream is to work in sport. His goal is to be a professional cricketer and support the disabled community through coaching. Through his involvement with Super 1s and Sussex Cricket, Alfie is now working towards achieving his dream.
He says: “I love being part of Super 1s. As far as I am concerned everyone is unique and whatever your challenge or disability, if you want to play cricket, I will help you, support you and show you how to play.”
Participants at the Crawley hub really look up to him. He is extremely popular, especially with the older boys. But he has also formed a real bond with younger participants and is extremely protective of the more vulnerable participants. He goes out of his way to look after them.
He is still at college – and whilst his disability means he struggles with subjects like maths, sport and in particular cricket, has given him a purpose in life – in Alfie’s words, it is his life.
Alfie’s journey to the England LD team
Alfie now bats at number three for the Sussex D40 team and made history in 2022 when he scored 162 runs against Surrey D40 at The 1st Central County Ground. This was the first ever disability fixture to be played at a first-class cricket ground and Alfie’s runs on the big occasion did not go unnoticed.
2023 has been a special year for Alfie. He was invited to an England LD trial in March following his performances the previous year, and was subsequently selected for an official England LD squad training camp at the start of the 2023 season.
He was part of the 2023 Disability Premier League (DPL) - the ECB's elite-level disability competition featuring a mixture of players from three different impairment groups: physical disability, learning disability and deaf - and won the competition with the Hawks after defeating the Pirates live on Sky Sports at the Incora County Ground in Derby.
Then to cap it all off, he was then named in the LD touring squad for the Tri-series in South Africa before making his debut versus Australia.
We hope Alfie is the first of many young people living with a disability who make the journey from Super 1s to England, and we continue to see role models like him embedded in Super 1s hubs across the country, inspiring others to follow in his footsteps and realise their potential.