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Igniting a sporting spark

24 Sep 2019 13:55:50

As you may have gathered from some of my posts, I am a huge cricket fan. This has been a great summer for English cricket with England winning the men’s Cricket World Cup, the nail-biting men’s Ashes series and that edge-of-the-seat innings from Ben Stokes!

I am also passionate about children becoming involved in sport and in particular, girls – as a mother of a daughter myself, I’m keen for her to try as many sports as possible and not to feel as if any sport is a “boys’ sport” and something in which she can not participate. The English women’s cricket team have enjoyed some fantastic results - they’re World Cup winners too – and are proving to be fine role models for the younger generations.

I was thrilled to hear about a local 10 year old girl, Isabelle Rolfe, who has only recently taken up the sport of cricket but shown such flair that she was selected to play for Kent - what an achievement! I asked her a few questions about how she started cricket and how it made her feel. Please share it with your children – you never know, it might just light a sporting spark!

When did you first start to play cricket?

I started playing cricket towards the end of Year 4, but then cricket replaced rounders as a team sport at school at the start of year 5.

How did you find out about cricket in the first place? Are your parents sporty? Do they like cricket?

Dad used to play for his school and local club when he was younger and always likes to watch cricket. I sometimes watched cricket with Dad. I started playing at school, and then joined Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club in early summer this year.

How did you feel the first time you had a go? How did it feel holding the bat and waiting for the bowler to bowl at you?

It was exciting. But it was different from rounders so I had to work at holding the bat properly and standing in the right place. I also play hockey, and it’s very different from that too! I remember being excited to face the first ball bowled at me, although it was a little while before I learned how to hit the ball properly.

How did you feel at the end of your first match?

I didn’t want the first match to ever end! We won the first match against the school we were playing, so it was brilliant to have a win in the bag as well as get through the first proper match.

What made you want to play again?

Cricket is a great team game so it’s good to be out there with your friends and supporting each other. I like to play team sports and really enjoyed batting, so I was excited to be playing again.

How long had you been playing before you were asked to play for Kent?

I had been playing for a few months before I was selected to play for Kent against Surrey.

How did that make you feel?

It felt really special to be chosen to play for Kent. I was also a bit nervous as I hadn’t played much hard-ball cricket, so I needed to get used to playing in a helmet and pads, which you don’t use for soft-ball cricket. My school was very supportive too and let me train with boys playing hard-ball cricket. One of the other coaches at Tunbridge Wells helped with my batting, so it felt great that so many people were happy to help me.

Describe what your first cricket match for Kent was like - the match and your emotions.

The girls that had played for Kent already were really welcoming and helped me to join in quickly. David Sear is a great coach and we had some brilliant training before the game, in fielding, batting and bowling. When it came to the match, I was really nervous but all of the girls were cheering us on and being really supportive. Although we lost the match by only two runs it felt like a win as we had a few new players in our team, but it was a great day.

Do you have any cricketing heroes? Any role models?

I’m just starting to watch some professional cricket so I’m learning about the players, especially the England Women’s Team. The World Cup was exciting and I’ve watched some of the Ashes series with Dad too.

What would you say to a girl or boy who hasn’t played cricket before? How would you persuade them to give it a try?

Give it a try! It can feel difficult to start with but once you get used to the techniques and tactics it’s a brilliant game. Good luck!

Isabelle took part in the first Kent County girls’ under 10s cricket match against Surrey on 6 July, twenty years, almost to the day, since Kent had played its first girls’ under 11's match at the same ground: an achievement for Isabelle and a special day for Kent County girls’ cricket too!

Well done Isabelle and good luck with your cricketing career!

We’d love to hear stories about your children’s sporting achievements, big or small – their personal bests.

0 Comments | Posted in News Features By katie

Inspiring kids into sport

Here at Little Big Sports, we are passionate about children and sport. It’s so important for children to be active but I appreciate that not everyone ‘gets’ it. Why is it so important for children to be involved in sport? Here are ten very good reasons – you never know, you might be tempted to try too.

1. Health and fitness – hopefully you know about this one! All children and young people should be physically active for 60 minutes a day, according to the NHS, to help their cardiac health, strengthen muscle and bones and reduce the chances of obesity. Being active is a critical part of a child's physical development, especially as our lives are so sedentary these days. It doesn’t always have to be a structured session – learning to ride a bike , taking the children swimming or climbing on a climbing frame - playing out in the garden counts too! As well as physical development, sport helps children’s …

2. Mental health – You might not think that your five year old experiences stress or anxiety but it is possible – starting school, friendship issues or the death of a loved one can spark new feelings and young children don’t necessarily know how to cope. Being involved in physical activity can help to channel a difficult emotion or even take their minds off it, mindfulness if you like. And this leads me onto …

3. Establishing good, healthy habits – young children that are involved in a sport or physical activity are more likely to continue to participate throughout their teens and then into adulthood. A habit of playing football every week, attending dance classes or whatever it may be helps to safeguard adults’ physical and emotional wellbeing, ultimately contributing to a happy and healthy life!

4. Learning about strategy – we all know that top sports people have a strategy when they step out to compete and children can start to develop these thought processes from a young age. I’ve noticed it on the football pitch whilst watching my children – they begin by following the ball as a pack and then they start to realise that if they spread out into their positions, they’re more likely to stop the opposition from attacking their goal. It’s as simple as that! Sport affords children the opportunity to develop tactics and use this skill in other areas of their life.

5. Child’s hand/eye coordination – this is a critical gross motor skill that we all need. Imagine driving, making dinner or even looking after your children without it! Whilst the body develops this ability innately, you can help to hone it by encouraging your child to participate in sport. Even sports that don’t involve a bat and ball can help as your child will have to gauge distances – reaching the end of the swimming pool for example, or where to put their hand next on a climbing wall.

6. Perseverance – not every child is a Tiger Woods when it comes to golf and the first time they have a go at hitting that small white ball may take several attempts. Hopefully with some coaching and guidance, they will continue to try and once they’ve achieved that, they’ll move onto other parts of the game. Sport is a great way to learn about the importance of listening and learning the foundations of the game and practice with the end goal being able to play the sport competently. And that leads nicely onto,

7. A sense of achievement – one of the great things about sport is that achievement comes in many guises thanks to the concept of ‘personal best’. Your team may not have won the league, but did you finish higher than last year? You may not have had a ‘podium place’ in the long jump, but did you jump further than ever before? That sense of achievement, no matter how small, can really boost confidence and improve a child’s self-esteem within their sport and in the classroom.

8. Teamwork ‘Getting along and engaging with others is the building block of many things in life,’ says chartered clinical psychologist and parenting adviser Claire Halsey, ‘From a young age, children need to learn how to give and take, share, take turns, play to their strengths and draw in other people to fill the gaps. It’s a core social skill.’ Team sports are obviously great for this but if your child loves an individual sport then they can appreciate teamwork by understanding their …

9. Commitment to a club – if your child plays for a club or attends regular training sessions, they will develop a sense of belonging, of being part of a team, even if they play an individual sport. We, as parents, need to help them understand their commitment to that club (“If no one can be bothered to turn up to play their match, then the opposition will win!”) and the responsibility that they have to its success.

10. Friendship – sports groups outside of school can provide your children with a new set of friends. For children who are struggling with friendship groups day-to-day a sports group can be invaluable – there is no issue with what game to play as they’re all there to do the same thing, eradicating disagreements but building strong bonds.

There are so many reasons for your child to play sport from a young age – I’ve only listed ten here. It really is so valuable to their development, building a skill set that they can use throughout life. I hope I’ve inspired you and maybe you will find a new sport too – you might want to learn a sport alongside your child, it’s never too late!

0 Comments | Posted in Features By Katie
Girls Sport

Earlier this year I was watching the FA Cup and was sat on the sofa with a smile on my face. It was the men’s FA Cup draw but there was a man and a woman performing it. The woman was Alex Scott MBE, former Arsenal and England footballer.

On the surface it looks as though they just had two footballers involved in working out which teams would play each other in the next stage of the Cup as usual, but if you dig a little deeper, there’s much more to it: the BBC had placed a female footballer on prime time TV carrying out the duties that predominantly a man had done before; and they were showing girls and women that it is possible to gain the coverage that male sports’ stars in the UK enjoy.

I am loving the sea change that is happening across the media when it comes to women’s sports and it’s not just because I enjoy reading those stories. It is so much more than newspaper copy.

Girls in sport then and now

Firstly, let’s go back to, say, the 1970s - the UK was still tilted in favour of men although maybe things were starting to change... a little. Imagine being a girl who liked football then.
  • It might have been hard to be accepted into a team – she would likely have been told that football is a ‘boys’ sport’ and to go and play something typically played by girls.
  • She may have been bullied for playing a ‘boys’ sport’, been called a tomboy and the like.
  • And, she probably didn’t have any role models: she couldn’t see anyone older or further on in the game in real life or in the media of the day, who had fought her battles of being accepted into a team and the name calling as well as the challenges of playing sport as a teenager (periods, feeling self-conscious, lacking confidence being just three). She probably thought she was fighting a losing battle and so gave up, channelling her energies into other ‘more gender acceptable’ sports (we hope, although it’s highly likely she might have given up altogether).

    Fast forward to today and things are, thankfully, so different. If we carry on with the football theme, my daughter has just started playing for our local team and she is loving it! It benefits her in so many ways – exercise, a new friendship group, her confidence levels and just trying something new - the club has over sixty girls participating! Likewise, my son is training and playing cricket alongside girls much of the time and local towns have dedicated girls’ cricket teams. How that young girl from the 1970s would have loved it.

    And let’s be clear: it’s not all about girls playing ‘boys’ sports’. Even girls playing ‘girls’ sports’ didn’t used to be able to see their favourite sport on TV or reported in the newspaper. Coverage of women’s sport was pretty thin on the ground regardless.

    Why coverage is important

    Role models - this is why it’s so important for there to be coverage of women’s sports. We can buy our girls all the sports’ equipment in the world but what they really need are role models and when it comes to girls and sport, it’s critical, quite frankly. Girls, regardless of level, need to have others to emulate and who inspire them. They need to see that it is possible to achieve great things, be that at the local, county, national or even international level. And by establishing healthy habits through exercise and sport at a young age, they are on the right track to helping their mental and physical well-being as they grow older too.

    And with that in mind, I was really thrilled to see that The Daily Telegraph has started two campaigns recently. The first is “to transform the profile and visibility of women’s sport and to campaign for change.” They are going to start to publish a dedicated women’s sports’ supplement. This is MASSIVE news! Dina Asher-Smith summed up the importance of role models brilliantly, “I am very much aware that I am here because I am female track and field. I could conceptualise going to the Olympics as a female sprinter at the highest level. I could see it on TV. It should be the same if you are a young girl playing football, cricket, netball or rugby.”

    Their second campaign is called Girls, Inspired which aims “to close the gender sports gap in schools and keep girls active.” As I’m sure you appreciate, this is right up my street and follows other great initiatives such as “This Girl Can” and “Chance to Shine” for girls in cricket.

    Social media

    Social media receives bad press much of the time but it does have its pro’s too and especially so when it comes to women in sport. It has afforded many professional sportswomen the platform to create their own coverage and not only that, but in a really authentic way. They can post videos of themselves ‘behind the scenes’ to show that perhaps they’re not always ‘winning’ at sport, or at life! That training days are hard, that they sometimes resent the diets they have to eat but that overall, it’s to help them achieve their dreams.

    Girls in sport need to be able to see successful women to spur them on to achieve their own dreams. Unlike the FA Cup, coverage of women’s sport shouldn’t be down to the ‘luck of the draw’ and whether the story warrants taking the place of a men’s sports’ story. It’s so important to provide role models and in order for things to change there needs to be deliberate action to affect the status quo. It’s great to see what The Daily Telegraph is doing but now we need other media organisations to follow suit.

    This piece was not sponsored by The Daily Telegraph in any way! I just like what they’re doing. Follow them on Instagram @telegraphwomenssport.

  • 0 Comments | Posted in Features By Katie

    Second in our series of blog posts, we are focusing on gifts suitable for children aged between 5 and 8 years of age. This is a key time in a child's life to encourage activity and for exercise in what ever form to become the norm. With this in mind we have selected our best christmas gift ideas that are sure to get kids (and parents for that matter) active.

    Reactor Rebounder Net

    This rebound net is brilliant at encouraging physical activity and building sporting confidence in young children. The Reactor Rebounder Net returns a thrown ball at differing angles helping develop the child's catching skills as well as providing hours of fun. Sold with a ball, the Reactor Rebounder net is suitable for indoor as well as outdoor use.

    Rebounder Reactor Net

    Cornilleau Sport One Indoor Table Tennis Table

    Table tennis is a fantastic sport for all the family. Not only does it build hand-eye co-ordination, it improves brain agility and is hugely sociable game. The Cornilleau Sport One Indoor Table Tennis Table is a brilliant, affordable table which is sold complete with net, posts, bats and balls.

    Cornilleau Sport One Indoor Table Tennis Table

    Samba Rugby Post

    Young children love emulating their sporting heroes. If rugby is their passion there is no better way than recreating a match and practicing their kicking in the garden with a Samba Rugby Post. Designed with a clever no holes system this ensures the garden stays in tact . A hugely popular product with kids and parents alike!

    Samba Rugby Post

    Zing Flashing Stump Set

    If cricket is becoming of interest to your child then look no further than the Zing flashing cricket stump set to further inspire them. This set will recreate the excitement of T20 cricket as the stumps light up when the ball dislodges the bails. Great fun.

    Zing Stump Set

    There is plenty more inspiration for gifts perfect for an active child in the gift section of our website which can be navigated by age. Coming very soon is a blog with older kids in mind
    Thanks for reading


    0 Comments | Posted in Features By Katie

    Before my children started school I remember feeling overwhelmed by the plastic avalanche of toys in our lounge. No matter how diligent I was by the end of the day (well actually 8am) the toys had seemingly multiplied taking up all the floor space. Not only was it a minefield to walk across but the reality was the kids didn't play with them properly, they flitted from one to another. The plastic situation was further amplified every birthday and Christmas. Presents given with love but maybe not appreciated by the kids as much as they should have been. So in a bid to steer away from just plastic we started suggesting non toy items; experiences, subscriptions or gifts that encouraged children to be active. (Can you see where I'm going with this?!).

    Now the countdown to Christmas is well underway we thought we would help you with some gift inspiration for active kids. First up we have selected a few of our best Christmas gift ideas for children under the age 5:

    Strider 12" Sport Balance Bike

    Strider Balance Bike Kids Red

    Balance bikes are a fantastic way of encouraging children to be active whilst learning the basics of riding a bike. We think Strider balance bikes are the best on the market and many happy kids agree. Featuring a padded seat and two seat posts, the Strider grows with your child making it suitable from the age of 1 up to 5 years old. The Strider Sport is available in 7 brilliant colours.

    US Kids Golf First Putter

    Us Kids Golf My First Putter

    Presented in a gift box there is no better present for a golf enthusiast to buy for a young child than this First Putter. Made out of steel, the putter is1 8 inches long making it a perfect club to introduce children aged 3 and younger to the game of golf.

    My First Football Boot

    My First Football Boots Kids

    For many children the love of football starts young. Running around and kicking a football is what they want to do all day long whatever the weather. If you know a child like this then their perfect Christmas present may well be a pair of M1B football boots which are available in tiny sizes. Not only do they look the part they will help with the child's football development.

    Super Tramp Spring Time Trampoline

    Super Tramp Trampoline for Kids

    A trampoline isn't just for summer. They are a brilliant addition to the garden all year round. Super Tramp trampolines are renowned for their quality and bounce. For younger children the Spring Time is an ideal present as not only will it guarantee hours of active fun it has additional safety features that protect small hands and feet.

    Hopefully that has given you some inspiration but if not then check out the gift section of our website which can be navigated by age for more gift ideas for kids. If you have an older child watch this space. Next week we will be featuring Christmas present ideas that encourage kids aged between 5 and 8 to be active
    Happy shopping!


    0 Comments | Posted in Features By Katie

    Children today grow quickly. To help this development happen correctly, it is important to the use of the right size sports equipment. For example many children are given a bat or a ball that is far too large for them, more than often it’s an average size for an adult.

    Giving children the correct scope and weight for their size helps the muscles and joints develop properly and at the right pace, not putting too much strain on their bodies in this vital time of growth.

    Children that show natural ability towards a sport can further improve their skills and potential to be a good sports person with use of appropriate size equipment.

    Another important factor to consider for growing active children is the correct amount of sleep. When children sleep the growth hormone is released and the body has time to recover from its busy day.

    A good nutritional diet is crucial, with plenty of vegetables and protein to assist their developing bodies as well as an adequate amount of water to help keep them fresh and active. Cutting back on added refined sugars, which clog up our children’s brains and tummies is as equally as important.

    Alicia Proud- games coach and nutritional advisor.

    0 Comments | Posted in Features By Alicia Proud
    Run Fun Starz LogoRun Fun Starz is a London Based sports programme that aims to get kids and adults into sport and encourages them to achieve their personal best. Their Blog is a great resource for coaches and parents. The following article helps coaches to engage with younger people.

    The first step to engage young people in activities, sports and programmes is to involve them in the decision making process. This can be done by holding discussions where they are able to voice their views, ideas and any concerns they may have. Young people can be very imaginative and enthusiastic therefore some of their ideas may not always be feasable. Ensure that you show appreciation to it even if it is unfeasable and demonstrate the reasons they cannot be carried out. Don't dismiss what they have to say as they are likely to feel they are not being listened to. Suggest alternatives to their proposals which are on a smaller scale and achievable in the short and long term. Read more at RunFunStarz Blog.

    If you are a coach, why not become a Little Big Sports Affiliate and earn commission when your customers buy from us. Find out more.....


    0 Comments | Posted in Features By Katie

    Family Friendly Paralympics

    19 Sep 2011 19:54:37

    Without wanting to wish away our lives, we are very excited about next year and London 2012 in particular.

    There was huge publicity and demand Olympic tickets. Here at Little Big Sports we were lucky to get our hands on tickets for the hockey, so the whole family will be able to enjoy the Olympic experience. I can safely predict that my son's new sport of choice next August will be hockey!

    But did you know that the ballot to apply for tickets for the Paralympic games close at 6pm on Monday 26th of September? Without question it will be an amazing and inspiring sporting extravaganza. Obviously most of the events at the Paralympics will be family friendly but some will be more appropriate for all the family than others. The C4 Paralympic website have written a guide to the best family friendly events. Click here to read more. Have a read and get your application in before the 26th of this month...
    0 Comments | Posted in Features By Little Big Sports

    Active Holiday in France

    4 Sep 2011 15:45:02

    Zoggs SunsuitsJust returned from the most amazing holiday in the French Alps. Spent a blissful 2 weeks (the longest break since the children came along) enjoying glorious weather and scenery. The first week of our French adventure was staying with friends not far from Lake Geneva. Having hosts that lived there meant we were straight into the swing of things. Swimming in the lake, running down mountains and enjoying the huge network of outdoor swimming pools. Not to mention the very fine wine and cheese.

    We then moved on to a cabin by Lake Annecy. Stunning does not do it justice. For us it was the perfect holiday destination. Sunshine, friendly and lots to do. Everyday we were active with the kids. Highlights included a 40 km bike ride along a cycle path with the lake on one side, the Alps on the other and the summer luge at Semnoz. What struck me was how active everyone was. The roads were full of cyclists; young and old. The lakes brimming with swimmers and kayaks. Come winter everywhere will be geared up to fantastic snowy pursuits.

    Cycling by Lake AnnecyWe have come back motivated in three area's. One to have a more active lifestyle and to explore more of the Outdoors with the kids. Secondly to look at selling kids cycling products as it is a great way for kids to have fun and to be active. Thirdly we are going to plot our retirement in the French Alps (not that I am wishing my life away!).


    0 Comments | Posted in Features By David Malkinson

    Cabin Fever

    4 Jan 2011 09:05:28

    I love snowy days, cosy family time inside and of course Christmas but as we settled into the lack of routine of the school holidays inactivity took hold. Without letting off steam my son in particular becomes irritable and resistant to doing anything apart from playing with his toys. I have therefore always tried daily to take the kids out for some fresh air and exercise even if it has just been ten minutes in the garden. This year so far the weather has been particular challenging and my 2 year old daughter is not good in the cold even when wrapped up in 5 layers! When the weather was good we went exploring in the snow, walked across the fields and took out the scooters...but the weather has too often been our biggest challenge, infact for about three weeks of December the pavements were so icy it was dangerous to even walk a few steps. So we have tried to be inventive. Trips to the golf driving range, games of kwik cricket inside, indoor obstacle courses and obviously sledging. We could have gone to soft play but I am not a fan in the school holidays as it is so packed and a haven for tummy bugs. How do you all keep your children active or is it best just to accept that these cold dark months are times for hibernation?
    0 Comments | Posted in Features By Little Big Sports