A CRICKET coach says local clubs should look to encourage and recruit youngsters from their immediate neighbourhoods.

Farouk Hussain, an ECB (English Cricket Board) Level 2 coach, and has rejuvenated Blackburn’s East Lancashire cricket club by reaching out to local families.

More than 100 children of all ages now turn out weekly at the Alexandra Meadows ground on Dukes Brow, in the Corporation Park area.

Farouk said: “Every week there is a phenomenal turn-out for us considering where the club was as far as juniors are concerned.

“We were struggling to get out junior teams. It shows there is a desire and a passion in Blackburn for youngsters to play cricket. It just needs channelling in the right direction.

“We take nursery age children all the way up to those aged 15. We have a variety of activities that place for the age ranges. It is an all-inclusive club and boys and girls are all welcome.

“The coaches here also have a lot of experience and that makes a big difference.

“The rebranding as East Lancs Eagles has helped too. The bespoke clothing makes it look very contemporary.

“It ties in with things like the Indian Premier League, the Pakistani Super League and The Hundred. So, the kids can relate to that. It gives them that identity and I think that is important.”

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Farouk has taken up the role of Community Talent Champion for the ECB and he is hoping to spot new talent emerging in Lancashire.

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He said: “We have games going on during midweek. Our Under 9s are doing really well this year. The Under 13s got to the quarter-final of the cup.

“A lot of these kids are new to the game so they are learning. In some respects some of them are several years behind their peers because in other established clubs players have been playing since a younger age.

“It is phenomenal the amount of raw talent that we have and I have seen that through the ‘Chance to Shine Street’ projects that take place in Blackburn. We are trying to channel a lot of those kids that play street cricket or the tape ball version to come into a more formal club environment where they can play competitive fixtures.

“Also, they can put themselves in the shop window and get recognised for county representation. In my role for the ECB I am looking to signpost some of the more talented kids to development centres locally.”

Farouk said a lot of local clubs were replicating this new drive, “We have a lot of clubs doing lot of good work too like Darwen who are very proactive.

“Cricket being such a game, is one where people tend to go to a club that is effectively on their doorstep. So, we are trying to cater for those who live in the immediate vicinity. That is not to say it is exclusive for those children, we also have kids who come from the other side of Blackburn toa take part in the training.

“We want to make everyone feel as welcome as possible.”

For further information about East Lancs Eagles, call Farouk on 07973 360320