In September 2018, Sarah Jenkins joined her local Super 1 community center, Mahdlo Youth Zone in Oldham, Greater Manchester. Super 1s is a cricket program run by Lord’s Taverners, the UK’s leading youth cricket charity, for young people aged 12 to 25 with disabilities. A little over three years later, she is now part of the ECB Super 9s competition representing Lancashire. Sarah says cricket has transformed her life, helping her cope with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, social development disorder (SDD) and speech and language dyspraxia.
“Sport is very important to me; I have always enjoyed it. I played soccer for a while and still play netball for my local disabled team but it was since I started playing cricket that I really started to gain confidence and develop. my teamwork skills.
“Before I visited Oldham Youth Club and joined the Super 1 cricket team I wasn’t really socializing at all, it was something I found quite difficult. Cricket has helped me overcome this by being in group situations with different people, learning and having fun together. I have more confidence in myself and am more aware of the people around me which is great because I can use these skills outside of cricket as well. One of the best things I have learned is to use my own experiences to help others around me if they are having difficulty.
“A few years ago, when I was at a Super 1s shoot, Amlyn Layton [disability cricket development officer at Lancashire Cricket Foundation] told me about the Super 9s and the county softball competition they compete in. I said I would go with it, and the rest is history. I have been doing it ever since. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it played a big part in building my confidence to where I am now.
“I wanted to take the next step and get involved in coaching and supporting other people with disabilities, like me. I want to help them build their confidence and encourage them to socialize because I know how good it feels and the benefits it can have on their lives. Cricket has really helped me and now I want to give back.
“I recently passed my ECB Support Coach course to do this – wow, that was a great time! I was dying of nervousness. It took me several attempts to do this, but after many Zoom calls with Amlyn I was successful. Considering the daily challenges I face, Amlyn read the questions for me, it helped me a lot and made me feel prepared. I thanked Amlyn for this because it made such a big difference.
“To anyone considering going to a Super 1 hub, without hesitation I would say go ahead, socialize, be open to making friends and use the supportive community to strengthen your trust, just like I did. It doesn’t matter whether you live with a disability or not, cricket will support and help you in ways you couldn’t have imagined before.
Sarah took responsibility for helping people
“When you work in sport at the community level, and especially in disabled sport, you are always looking to welcome new people into sport. If someone is coming to one of our sessions for the first time, seeing a player like Sarah is invaluable as she has been involved for a while, knows what it is and has a lot of enthusiasm … very contagious and so important to have in a group.
“If you have one or two people like that, it can make a big difference in attracting more. Sarah is certainly one of those welcoming personalities and we are grateful to have her in our cricket community.
“While he lacked confidence at the start; she has always had enthusiasm. She wanted to be a team captain, have a bat, have a bowl and get involved wherever she can. But as she matured and her communication skills developed, she also became more aware of those who might struggle with a certain skill. As such, she proactively takes responsibility for helping people within the team who might need additional support. We are very grateful to have Sarah’s contribution – the game of cricket is lucky to have it.
To find out more about Disability Cricket and how to get involved, visit www.ecb.co.uk/play/open-age/disability-cricket