In September 2018, Sarah Jenkins joined her local Super 1s community hub, Mahdlo Youth Zone in Oldham, Greater Manchester. Super 1s is a cricket programme run by the UK’s leading youth cricket charity Lord’s Taverners for young people aged 12-25 with a disability. Just over three years later, she is now part of the ECB Super 9s competition representing Lancashire. Sarah says cricket has transformed her life, helping to deal with the day-to-day of living with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, social development disorder (SDD), and speech and language dyspraxia.
“Sport is very important to me; I’ve always enjoyed it. I played football for a while and still play netball for my local disability team, but it’s since becoming involved with cricket that I’ve really started to build up my confidence and grow my teamwork skills.
“Before I visited the youth club in Oldham, and joined the Super 1s cricket team, I wasn’t really socialising at all, it’s 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 feel more confident in myself and I’m more aware of the people around me, which is great because I can take these skills outside of cricket too. One of the best things I’ve learnt is using my own experiences to help others around me if they’re struggling.
“A few years ago, while I was at a Super 1s session, Amlyn Layton [disability cricket development officer at Lancashire Cricket Foundation] told me about the Super 9s and the county softball competition they take part in. I said I’d go along, and the rest is history. I’ve been doing it ever since. Not only is it great fun but it has played a big part in building up my confidence to where I am now.
“I wanted to take the next step and get involved with coaching and supporting others with disabilities, like myself. I want to help grow their confidence and encourage them to socialise because I know how great it feels and the benefit it can have on their life. Cricket has really helped me and now I want to give back.
“I recently passed my ECB Support Coach course to do that – wow, that was a big moment! I was dead nervous. It took me quite a few attempts to do it but after lots of Zoom calls with Amlyn, I passed. Given the daily challenges I face, Amlyn read the questions out for me, this helped a lot and meant I went in feeling prepared. I’ve thanked Amlyn for that because it made such a big difference.
“To anyone out there considering going to a Super 1s hub, without hesitation I’d say go along, socialise, be open to making friends and use the supportive community to build up your confidence, just like I have. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t live with a disability, cricket will support you and help in ways you couldn’t have previously imagined.”
Sarah has taken on the responsibility to help people
“When you work in community-level sport, and especially disability sport, you’re always looking to welcome new people into the game. If somebody comes along to one of our sessions for the first time, seeing a player there like Sarah is invaluable as she’s been involved for a while, knows what it’s all about, and has a bucket load of enthusiasm… that’s very infectious and so important to have in a group.
“If you have one or two individuals like that, it can make a big difference in attracting others. Sarah is certainly one of those welcoming personalities and we’re thankful to have her as part of our cricketing community.
“Whilst initially lacking in confidence; she’s always had enthusiasm. She’s wanted to captain teams, have a bat, have a bowl, and just get involved wherever she can. But as she’s matured and her communication skills have grown, she’s also become more conscious of those who might be struggling with a certain skill. As such, she’s proactively taken on the responsibility of helping people within the team who might need additional support. We’re so grateful to have Sarah’s contribution– the game of cricket is lucky to have her.”
To find out more about disability cricket and how to get involved, head to www.ecb.co.uk/play/open-age/disability-cricket