A TEAM made up of pupils from Culverhill, Brimsham Green and New Siblands will represent Gloucestershire at Lord’s after winning a regional table cricket festival.
Competing as South Glos A, the side won all three of their matches in a round-robin tournament against teams from Bath and North East Somerset, South Glos B and North Somerset.
The festival – which was held at UWE – was one of 10 regional heats of the national Lord’s Taverners competition.
South Glos A, captained by 16-year-old Andy Livelall will now go on to play against the best teams from around the country at the home of cricket on June 27.
Livelall, who attends Brimsham Green School in Yate, said: “This is my fourth festival and I really enjoy coming here. The thing I like the most is the competition, it is great to compete against the other teams.”
Table cricket is a version of the game adapted for people with severe physical or learning disabilities.
It is played on a table tennis table using a ball launcher, small wooden bat and sliding panels as fielders.
Sally Flook, head of PE at Culverhill School, said table cricket had not only given her pupils a valuable sporting opportunity but also an important social one.
She said: “One of the fantastic things about table cricket is that Culverhill pupils have been able to train with pupils from Brimsham Green. It has provided an opportunity for the two schools to come together and that isn’t going to stop after today.
“Table cricket is an excellent game as it is very accessible. It also provides a valuable social opportunity - not to mention giving the players a chance to play at Lord’s.”
Both table cricket and able-bodied versions of the game have become a big hit at Culverhill and the school has established strong links with the newly-formed Frenchay disability team – the Frenchay Falcons.
Flook said: “Chris Munden from the Gloucestershire Cricket Board has been inspirational. He has been very supportive of what we are trying to do.
"Lots of the kids have received coaching from Frenchay through Chance to Shine and we now have a soft ball kwik cricket team, and an inter cricket team. Three of our students have also trained with the England disability squad.”
In addition to the Lord’s Taverners competition, a number of other schools made up of players with more severe disabilities also took part in their own festival.
Bristol schools Briarwood, Warmley Park and Claremont and New Siblands from Thornbury, all played in a round-robin contest with the undefeated Claremont coming out on top.
Lord’s Taverners volunteer Les Rowland said: “One of the great things about table cricket is that it gives those that are less physically able a chance to participate in a competitive sport but in a friendly way. It is also a chance for them to meet people from other schools and have a great time.”
John Sullivan, Lord’s Taverners regional table cricket development manager, added: “It has been a fantastic day and it has been great to see so many children enjoying themselves. These days are an important part of our plans to keep growing table cricket and provide a pathway right up to under-19 and adults.”
The day was supported by the Gloucestershire Cricket Board, Year 10 sports leaders from The Castle School in Thornbury and a number of qualified umpires.