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Three young cricketers get their time to shine

Connor Bettsworth and Seaver Cowley - Aldridge Cricket
Connor Bettsworth and Seaver Cowley - Aldridge Cricket
©Aldridge Cricket
 
Jordan Shaw - Aldridge Cricket
Jordan Shaw - Aldridge Cricket
©Aldridge Cricket
 

Three graduates of the Aldridge Cricket Academy (ACA) programme at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) secure opportunities to take their cricket skills to the other side of the world.

Jordan Shaw, one of the first ever students to complete the ACA programme and now one if it’s regular guest coaches, has been selected to represent England in the Indoor Cricket World Cup, taking place in Australia next month.

Following closely in his footsteps, two other ACA students who graduated from BACA in the summer, Connor Bettsworth and Seaver Cowley, have been awarded the first ever Dormer Melluish Aldridge Cricket Scholarships, giving them a life-changing student exchange opportunity to spend six months in Christchurch, New Zealand, playing and coaching cricket and volunteering with two local charities. The scholarships are being funded and made possible by the Dormer and Melluish families, the Aldridge Foundation, The Willows Cricket Club in Christchurch, and Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation.

Jordan Shaw discovered his love for cricket at a very young age when up was living in South Africa. When he was six, he began working with a coach, who would go on to help him hone his cricket skills over the next 10 years. It was also during his time in South Africa that Jordan discovered indoor cricket - a fast-paced version of the traditional game - which was a favoured activity for birthday parties.

When Jordan moved back to the UK in 2011, he was keen to continue playing cricket - even if the weather conditions weren’t so favourable - and was delighted to find Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA), a state school and sixth form, preparing to launch a Cricket Academy programme that would rival similar offerings usually reserved for private schools. The programme allowed Jordan to focus on his academic studies in the morning, giving him the freedom to spend his afternoons playing and studying cricket, which was, as he puts it, ‘…the dream situation’.

Now, Jordan splits his time between playing cricket semi-professionally and coaching the next generation of young players going through the Aldridge Cricket Academy programme at BACA and the Sussex Cricket Junior League. But, Jordan insists, cricket isn’t just for aspiring cricketers.

Jordan is certain that playing cricket helped him to build confidence, learn to take responsibility and develop key skills, such as resilience, teamwork and problem solving. Now, as a player and a coach, it’s his view that all young people, no matter what their career aspirations, should take up a team sport: “I can’t think of anything else quite like it - the competitive, high pressure situations - that require you to very quickly learn to communicate well, adapt and own your role within a team. You discover your strengths and weaknesses and develop mental strength that will help you in all aspects of your life.”

But how did Jordan end up being selected to play for England?

“It all happened very quickly – a colleague of mine knew I had some experience playing Indoor Cricket and invited me to play in a tournament and following that we were drafted into a super league, in which we came second. Then, in January, I received an email from the Action Indoor England Committee, telling me that I’d made the preliminary selection for the England team. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to play! I’m not sure how many times I’m going to get an opportunity to represent my country and wear an England shirt with my name on the back. It’s an honour.”

Having grown up there, Jordan admitted that he’ll always have a place in his heart for the South African team but assured us that once he steps out on the court next month, he’ll be giving his all to England: “Australia have won every tournament since 1995. I don’t know what’s going to happen this year but I do know that England have got a strong team. I can’t wait - it’s seven days of non-stop cricket. I’m going to give 100% and whatever happens on the court, I’m going to absolutely love every second of it.”

Connor Bettsworth and Seaver Cowley’s Dormer Melluish Aldridge Cricket Scholarships for 2022/23 give them a life-changing student exchange opportunity to spend six months in Christchurch, New Zealand, playing and coaching cricket at Riccarton Cricket Club and The Willows Cricket Club and volunteering with two local charities. Shortly, two students from New Zealand will be heading to the UK to spend six months in England at Arundel Castle Cricket Club and at the cricket centre at BACA.

Having never travelled so far from home, Connor and Seaver are going to experience lots of new things, starting perhaps with jet lag! However, they seem excited, rather than daunted by this prospect, feeling that they have been well prepared for this ‘unbelievable’ opportunity.

Like Jordan, both Connor and Seaver discovered cricket at a young age – Seaver through his dad, who shares his son’s passion for cricket, having played himself since he was teenager, and Connor in primary school, when a teacher encouraged him to just ‘give it a go’ which led him to finding his local club the next day.

But passion for the sport isn’t all that got them to this point – it’s the hard work, determination and willingness to make sacrifices so that they can spend as much time as possible honing their skills and benefitting from the state-of-the-art facilities at BACA - including indoor nets, gym and physio equipment. Attending one of the very few state schools named in The Cricketer magazine’s Top 100 Schools, BACA has allowed Connor and Seaver to learn from professional players alongside their academic studies.

Alexia Walker, Director of Cricket at BACA and former Sussex Captain said “I’m incredibly proud of Jordan, Connor and Seaver, having worked with them for many years and watching them grow into the talented young players they are today. I hope that Connor and Seaver look up to Jordan as a role model and inspiration as to where their careers could take them.”

I’d like to thank the Dormer and Melluish families, Aldridge Foundation, The Willows Cricket Club, Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation and all of the individuals involved in making this life-changing opportunity possible for our students.”

At BACA, students are encouraged to do more than learn how to bat and bowl – they find their voice, confidence and life skills through playing cricket and integrate these learnings to other areas of their lives, and we have no doubt that their upcoming adventures will be just as transformative.

Travel provides a perfect opportunity for reflection and growth and the boys are ready for it:

Seaver said: “Not only do I hope to improve my cricket skills, I’ll be working and coaching too. I’m going to learn so much and I think the experience is going to help me to become a better person.”

Connor said: “These six months will give me a taste of independence, will encourage me to do more things myself and help me mature. I’m looking forward to seeing a new part of the world, meeting new people and making friends for life.”


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