By Hannah Cameron
As the Yorkshire Vikings revel in delight following the ECB’s decision to award Emerald Headingley both an Ashes Test in 2023 and host venue status for the new T20 competition, spirits are high for the White Rose players.
With 33 titles under their belt as they head into this April’s Cricket County Championship, Yorkshire are undeniably the most successful team in English cricketing history.
Maintaining their record for the most players produced for England, and having progressed the likes of Joe Root, current captain of England’s Test side, through the club, Yorkshire CCC are no strangers to developing its young stars into some of the world’s best cricketers.
Refusing to rest on their laurels, the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, the official charity and community arm of Yorkshire Cricket, have teamed up with leading education providers, SCL Education Group, to deliver an education and cricket development programme for young and aspiring players.
The two-year, full-time BTEC programme, delivered in partnership with SCL, aims to utilise the power of cricket alongside Emerald Headingley’s world-class facilities, to provide 16-18 year-olds with an unforgettable educational and cricketing experience.
SCL Education Group Tutor, Rebecca Bissett told The Cricket Paper: “The course offers a wide range of modules from anatomy, psychology, coaching, fitness, and exercise health and lifestyle, giving the learners the opportunity to explore their interests within sport.
“This allows and encourages them to discover different aspects of sports that they didn’t know existed, giving them a wider view and understanding of the sporting environment.”
Since its first intake in September 2017, the Yorkshire Cricket College (YCC) has gone from strength to strength, as students shine both on the pitch and in the classroom.
“The current students on the course have excelled since starting at YCC. All are achieving at least their target grade, if not beyond. Although some of the content can be difficult, the lessons are catered for all learners to succeed to the best of their ability,” explained Bissett.
“The learners understand that if they want to succeed, they have to throw themselves at every opportunity and take advantage of the extensive resources used in each unit. This will then develop their understanding and enjoyment of the course.”
While finding a first-class, first-team player in the programme would be an added bonus, the main aim is clear.
Nick Robinson, Education and Participation Manager at Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, told The Cricket Paper: “The college isn’t necessarily where we’re going to breed the next Joe Root. It’s a place where they are going to come and get themselves a BTEC and progress to University or a job, and cricket is going to have helped to benefit their lives.”
On the importance of the education and cricket mix, Robinson continued: “Having that physical activity built into your education means that you’re not sat in a classroom for six to seven hours a day. I think just having that break and being active during those sessions really helps with their concentration.
“Regular activity is hugely important for anyone, and to see those developments and those improvements in their fitness is very satisfying. There can only be positive side effects on their lives, and their concentration in the educational side of things as well.
“That whole healthy body, healthy mind mantra is quite true and it’s something that they’ve got the opportunity to do here.”
But it’s not all eyes on the ball at Yorkshire Cricket College. On developing the students not only within cricket, but as people, Robinson added: “One of our primary aims is to give those opportunities, and to develop the students as part of the SCL course.
“There’s help with UCAS forms, help with CV writing, and we want to embellish that with work experience opportunities.”
And Bissett went on: “Time is purposely used to develop the learners as an overall person, not just an academic student, offering support with work experience, volunteering, coaching qualifications and much more.”
With cricket proving to be a great motivator for the students to complete assignments on time, whilst ensuring a mature attitude in the classroom, Robinson warned: “If you don’t do your coursework, you’re not doing the cricket. That’s a really good tool to make sure that they knuckle down and hand their coursework in on time.”
With high standards to uphold, Robinson continued: “When you’re wearing the white rose, you’re representing something a lot larger than just The Yorkshire Cricket College”.
“It’s vital that they’re well mannered, they’re respectful, and their behaviour is good. The coaches and tutor work really closely together and we try and keep that consistent message that you are representing more than just a college. The white rose is a historic badge,” he added.
Outside of the classroom, The Yorkshire Cricket College provides unique opportunities for development through work experience, volunteering and extra-curricular qualifications.
“The opportunities available at YCC are extensive,” explained Bissett.
“Learners have direct contact with the pro squad, often training alongside and occasionally with some of the pros themselves.
“This all results in a friendly and productive environment where the learners gain a sense of community and pride to be based at the club.”
“We’ve got them coaching, we’ve got students working with the strength and conditioning team here at Yorkshire, and hopefully in the next couple of months, we’ll start some of the group who are interested in groundsmanship. They’re going to start doing some work experience with some of the Yorkshire Cricket grounds staff as well,” Robinson explained.
With an unconventional learning environment and the YCCC pros as role models for the students, he explained: “Seeing professional cricketers that you idolise and never thought you’d meet walking past your classroom on a morning, I think that’s really made a difference.”
“We’ve got a strong volunteering programme here at the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation where there’s placement opportunities available. Many of those do go onto get jobs inside the club, or certainly inside a sporting environment.”
With the brilliant Emerald Headingley Stadium to call home, the Yorkshire Cricket College students are looking to impress at all times.
“There’s the opportunity to bowl in front of elite players at the club, and be watched by elite coaches of those players,” Robinson explained.
“If you want to get a name for yourself, there’s no better place to do it. People talk within the organisation and if someone is really standing out, they’re going to get quite a reputation and get spotted. It’s an incredible opportunity to show off your skills in front of Yorkshire coaches and if you’re good enough, get the chance to bowl at the Yorkshire batsmen.
“Ultimately, if they’re good enough, they get spotted. What better way to get scouted?”
On Yorkshire’s thriving partnership with SCL, and the future of the programme, Robinson told The Cricket Paper: “SCL’s involvement has been great. They have been as hands on as they need to be, without being too prescriptive of how we deliver the course.
“We’ve had the carte blanche to run the programme how we feel it should look, but the curriculum side of things have been taken care of.”
Steve Franks, Managing Director, Education and Training at SCL Education Group concluded: “It’s been an absolute privilege for us to be working with Yorkshire Cricket. Notwithstanding their world-famous name and sporting pedigree, they have been an absolute pleasure to work with.
“The facilities are second to none and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation’s commitment, professionalism and enthusiasm to ensuring that the boys get the very best education and sporting opportunities goes hand in hand with SCL’s ethos and values.
“We are really proud of what we have been able to achieve at Emerald Headingley Stadium.”
lTo find out more about the Yorkshire Cricket College programme in partnership with SCL, or if you know someone aged 16-18 years’ old who would like to apply, visit http://wearescl.co.uk/yorkshire-cricket.
The Sports Academy study programme for young adults combines full-time education with sporting excellence and is delivered in partnership with Professional and grassroots clubs.