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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

Cricket Bowling Machines

12 Oct 2017 11:46:38


This month, the cricket bowling machine manufacturer Bola have delivered their 10,000th machine since they came on the scene in the 1980's. A staggering number but when you are immersed in the world of cricket as I am it is not unsurprising. Every club or net session my son attends there is a Bola machine reliably delivering balls. If you are unaware of the Bola Professional Bowling Machine then check out this video featuring, James Taylor, the ex England cricketer. It really is a brilliant piece of equipment suitable for junior or adult cricketers



For many (if not most!) parents and cricket clubs the Bola Professional Bowling Machine is not an affordable option. In 2016 Bola launched the Bola Junior Bowling Machine.The Junior has proved to be a huge success with cricket mad kids in the garden or cricket club allowing them to hit more balls and enjoy playing cricket. The battery lasts for 7 hours so it will keep them entertained for most of the day!! My son never gets bored of playing cricket. I kept expecting his enthusiasm to diminish but he loves the game more and more.



Although Bola are the established brand there is a new kid on the block (so to speak) Dimension Sport. Dimension manufacture the Paceman range of bowling machines as well as cricket nets which are much more affordable for home use but are still excellent quality products with great performance. The Paceman Pro X2 bowling machine is the top of the range model. With speeds of up to 100 kmph and the ability to inswing, outswing as well as deliver off and leg spin it is a popular choice for cricket clubs and older junior cricketers playing at a good level.

Our biggest seller by far is the Paceman S2 Original bowling machine. With a price point of just £244.99 including balls it is an affordable option which delivers excellent batting practice with speeds up to 65 kmph and the ability to produce outswinger and inswinger deliveries. Many of our customers are junior cricketers who have patiently saved up to buy the bowling machine themselves. I can personally highly recommend this bowling machine as my son's cricket development has in part been down to facing many balls from the Paceman in the garden!

0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie

When we set New Year's resolutions that involve getting fitter or healthier, they are often very specific to us and our personal goals or ambitions. A resolution for not only you, but the whole family will ultimately give you a shared goal, bring you all lots of fun and get everyone feeling healthy and energised. As well as happy.

Most people find embarking on something as a group or a team can help with motivation and staying on track. In a family situation this can be really powerful as children will look up to parents and take their lead. Parents don’t want to let their children down, and couples often like a bit of friendly competition! So, how does this translate into everyday life and where do you start?

As life is often busy and entails work, school, multiple social lives and commitments, it is important to keep things simple and manageable. Complex, time-consuming plans feel like extra chores and we all know that the way to stick to things is to make them fun and compatible with everyday life, so, why not consider the following:

Get walking
This sounds obvious but it is often so obvious that it is overlooked. We are all guilty of using the car far too much, as we believe it saves us time. Often it is not the case and loading up kids, kits and bags, driving to school or various clubs and then trying to find parking spaces can be pretty stressful. Schools, after-school activities and friend’s houses tend to be within walking distance of our homes and leaving the car at home or even a few 'car free' days a week can really help to increase activity levels. There are times when you have to rely on the car, but on the days where you know you can leave it at home and walk instead, then do it. It is better for everyone and gives you all the chance to chat and have some family time together; trying to focus on children’s conversations whilst in a car, on a busy road is not conducive to a relaxed chat!

Make fitness fun
Exercise (for adults as well as children) doesn’t need to be strict or regimented. Some children are naturally sporty and active and others need a bit of encouragement. Similarly not all parents want to spend every day at the gym or embarking on an arduous fitness programme, so keep it simple. Regular weekend bike rides, family days out that involve moving lots, such as parks, nature trails, activity centres, games in the garden.

Be inventive!
Exercise and activity doesn’t need to be an expensive pursuit, children tend to be just as happy with simple games as they are with expensive days out. Invent games and activities that can be played at home, or, if you need some inspiration, invest in some kit that enables everyone to enjoy playing in the garden, such as those listed below which encourage fun and activity for everyone:
  • The Quickplay Kickster Combo Goal & Rebound Net.
  • The Aresson Mini Rounders set.
  • A Zsig Mini Tennis Net.

    The family that eats together…
    Most people would agree that children shouldn’t be exposed to food or weight worries. However it doesn’t hurt to educate them about the types of foods that are more likely to keep them feeling happy, healthy and bursting with energy. Children grow quickly, ideally move lots and are developing mentally and physically at a fast rate. We need to ensure they are getting the right foods into their diet to support their development. It is really easy to get good foods into the diet and doesn’t need to be time consuming or expensive. By swapping sugary cereals for porridge, muesli or eggs, sandwiches for salads and wraps and processed ready-meals for home cooked meals such as stews and curries, containing leans meats, pulses and lots of vegetables then you are doing really well! The odd sugary treat is fine, but aim to swap sweets and chocolates for fruit and crisps for nuts, seeds, oatcakes and hummus. It is good to compromise with children, so you can offer them a day in the week where they have sweets or chocolate, or keep them for the weekend. Life is all about balance. Children learn by example so if you naturally take the healthy option then they will follow. It may take some time and patience, but it will pay off in the end. As activity levels increase, then you need to ensure you and the whole family are eating the right type of food to sustain you. Slow-release carbohydrates (vegetables, brown bread, rice, pasta) will provide quick to utilise energy, and protein (lean meat, fish, pulses, eggs) and fats (eggs, oily fish, oils, nuts, seeds) will help with muscle growth and repair and will sustain appetite throughout the day.

    Make team decisions
    In a family dynamic, everyone needs to be listened to and their wishes considered. This isn’t as easy with very young children, but as your children get older they are likely to have strong ideas about what they do and don’t enjoy. It is important everyone is listened to as this encourages compliance, so if you decide that you are going to do something as a family every weekend that encourages fitness and activity, then take it in turns to decide what that activity is. If everyone feels as though they are treated fairly and everyone is on board with their choice, they are more likely to agree to take part. Compromise is important; if you find it difficult to encourage activity with your children then make it easy for them to say yes. If they don’t want to walk as much as they should, then introduce it gradually. If removing sweet and sugary foods and swapping them for healthier snacks is a problem, then do it slowly. Radical changes often don’t work, but by approaching things in a calm way and slowly increasing exercise and more nutritious foods, good habits are more likely to be formed, and to remain.
    Your children will learn from you. If an active healthy lifestyle is something that naturally occurs then it will become second nature to them. By making health and fitness choices that benefit, not only you, but also your family as a whole, you are providing them with the foundation for a long and healthy life. Habits and behaviours are formed in early age and a child who is inactive, overweight and doesn’t have a well-balanced diet is unlikely to become a health-conscious adult. Conversely, a child who has always eaten a wide range of nutritious foods, who opts for walking over getting lifts everywhere and spends much of their time in active pursuits is likely to take these habits forward into adulthood. As healthy parents, you are not only improving your own lives by making positive food and fitness choices, you are also showing your children that as one ages, they can continue to be active, healthy and happy.

    So make 2016 the year of the healthy, family-focused New Year Resolution!

    Huge thanks to Alex Ravenscroft for the guest blog. Alex is a nutritional therapist, a personal trainer and a lovely lady! Find out more about Alex here.
  • 0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie
    All I want for Christmas is to play tennis in the Davis Cup

    The countdown to Christmas is well under way. It's a fun but hectic time of the year, which is why we thought we would provide you with weekly Christmas present ideas for active kids.


    This week, inspired by the brilliant British team winning the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years, we feature mini tennis and multi sport sets.


    The most popular seller in our range is the Zsig Mini Tennis garden set . This quality tennis set is priced at £75.99 and includes a 3m tennis net, 3 foam balls, 3 mini tennis balls and 2 tennis rackets. It is perfect for the garden and guarantees hours of fun for all the family. Who knows, it might even inspire the next Andy Murray.


    Watch out for next weeks Christmas gift idea for active kids. Have a great week


    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie
    All I want for Christmas is to play cricket for my country

    The countdown to Christmas has begun. It's a fun but hectic time of the year, which is why we thought we would provide you with weekly Christmas present inspiration for active kids.

    This week we feature the Paceman Original bowling machine. The Paceman Original is a great quality, affordable bowling machine ideal ideal for young cricketers. It is perfect for accurate, reliable bowling simulation in the garden or at the cricket club. With variable speeds up to 90 kmph it is fully adjustable for full pitch and short pitch deliveries and is able to produce inswinger and outswinger deliveries. Priced at £194.99 including 13 Paceman light balls this would make a wonderful Christmas present for a young cricketer.

    The Paceman Original is one of our bestsellers and is loved by our customers and my cricket loving son (and husband!).

    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie
    All I want for Christmas is a strider balance bike

    The countdown to Christmas has begun for many of us. It's a fun but hectic time of year, which is why we thought we would save you a little time and provide you with weekly Christmas present inspiration for active kids.


    This week we feature the award winning Strider 12 Sport. The Strider Sport is a balance bike suitable for children between the age of 18 months and 5 years of age. Super light and easy to control it features a durable, all weather, padded saddle designed for beginner riders. With a long seat post also included and adjustable handle bars the bike grows with your child.


    Our daughter loved her Strider and when she progressed on to a full bike she rode it straight away, full of confidence. She is still a more accomplished cyclist than her older brother!


    Watch out for next weeks Christmas gift idea for active kids. Have a great week


    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie
    All I want for Christmas is a Quickplay Kickster combo goal and reound net

    The countdown to Christmas has begun for many of us. It's a fun but hectic time of year, which is why we thought we would save you a little time and provide you with weekly Christmas present inspiration for active kids.


    This week we feature the brilliant Kickster Combo Goal and Rebounder. The Kickster Combo is a football goal and rebounder in one. Super speedy and easy to assemble. It is perfect for a football match but easy to adapt to the rebounder for training practice or when the child is on their own in the garden. Loved by my son and one of our bestsellers.


    Watch out for next weeks Christmas gift idea for active kids. Have a great week


    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie
    All I want for Christmas is a All Terrain go kart

    The countdown to Christmas has begun for many of us. It's a fun but hectic time of year, which is why we thought we would save you a little time and provide you with weekly Christmas present inspiration for active kids.


    This week, inspired by Lewis Hamilton winning his third Formula One World Championship, we feature the All Terrain Kart. The All Terrain Kart is a wooden go kart designed for boys and girls aged 7 to 14. Perfect for the park or any tobogganing hill (minus the snow!). A popular gift for the active child to perfect their driving skills.


    Watch out for next weeks Christmas gift ideas for active kids.



    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie
    All I want for Christmas is a garden trampoline

    The countdown to Christmas has begun for many of us. It's a fun but hectic time of year, which is why we thought we would save you a little time and provide you with weekly Christmas present inspiration for active kids.


    This week, suggested by my daughter, we feature the Super Tramp Super Flyer 12" trampoline. Available in a range of sizes, it is a popular addition to many a garden providing hours of bouncing fun. Priced from £174.99 with free delivery, this trampoline will keep children active whatever the temperature outside.


    Watch out for next weeks Christmas gift ideas for active kids.



    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie

    All I Want For Christmas Is....

    15 Oct 2015 16:59:48

    All I want for Christmas is garden rugby posts

    The countdown to Christmas has begun for many of us. It's a fun but hectic time of year, which is why we thought we would save you a little time and provide you with some Christmas present inspiration for active kids.


    Each week we will bring to you a fabulous gift idea for the child in your life who loves their sport and outdoor fun but is hard to buy for. This week, inspired by the rugby world cup, we feature the Samba Rugby Post . One of our bestsellers, this rugby post is great quality and goes down a storm in gardens across the UK. It is sold as a single post at £139.99 with free, quick delivery.


    Watch out for next weeks Christmas gift ideas for active kids.



    0 Comments | Posted in News By Katie