Middlesex County League Premier Division: Highgate CC reinvigorate junior section ahead of 2018 season

Local children play on Highgate CC's pitch (pic: Michael Clarke/Highgate CC).

Local children play on Highgate CC's pitch (pic: Michael Clarke/Highgate CC). - Credit: Archant

Johan de Silva has big plans for the colts currently at the Shepherd’s Cot club and is looking to boost numbers even further

Johan de Silva feels Highgate CC are already beginning to see the benefits and rewards of having a revised set-up and increased coaching capacity working at the club.

The batsman, who is the All Stars Cricket and Schools Recruitment lead at the north London outfit, is looking to promote the offering Highgate are running in the 2018.

This includes three All Stars Cricket programmes – the most run by a single club in the country – and the opportunity to be coached by eight UKCC2 (ECB-certificated) coaches at Shepherd’s Cot.

Highgate’s summer training sessions have recently begun and new sign-ups are coming in due to the work the club has been carrying out in the winter, with school visits carried out across four local boroughs.

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De Silva said: “Junior recruitment is tricky in the Shepherd’s Cot area due to the unusually large number of clubs, but the work that Highgate CC have been doing in the winter is notable in its focus and reach, which we hope will lead to more youngsters playing the game at our club.”

The second XI batsman and wicket-keeper also revealed the youth section at the Middlesex County League Premier Division club is now the biggest they have had for a long time.

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But they are not ready to stop recruiting more just yet, de Silva added: “Fingers crossed the fun and engaging sessions will lead to a larger amount of referrals and producing an even bigger junior section over this year and in 2019”.

Highgate have worked hard to restructure their junior section over the winter by appointing David Proctor as director of junior cricket while de Silva is involved with All Stars and the schools side of things.

The club have also appointed a part-time administrator Shelley Eaton and this has led to renewed focus and increased numbers.

With Highgate playing in the Premier Division for the first time this year, de Silva knows a strong youth system will help the first-team remain in the top tier for a lengthy period of time.

He added: “We’ve made a big investment into All Stars Cricket and put a lot of resources into it over the course of the year.

“We have committed to doing three programmes so that’s eight hours of sessions each as well as the administrative side of things and recruitment for the sessions.

“We are hoping it will provide a kick-start to our junior programme because we have had a little bit of a decline in our colts numbers over the last few years, so we want to promote ourselves as a centre of excellence for youth cricket.

“Everyone at the club believes we can create a pipeline for juniors to come through and as a Premier Division club, we are not going to maintain our status without grassroots talent.

“We really want to develop more local youngsters and help them get into our first-team, so that’s the aim.”

Highgate’s All Stars Cricket programme will start up again next month and the hope is it will unearth some potential cricketers for the first-team in years to come.

The initiative, which the ECB started in 2017, is aimed at providing children aged five to eight with a great first experience in cricket.

Highgate’s three different All Stars Cricket programmes run across Friday May 11 to Friday June 29, Saturday May 12 to Saturday June 30 and Sunday June 3 until Sunday July 22.

The Shepherd’s Colt club have junior teams from under-nines up to under-15s, with plans for under-17s and under-19s next year and a clear integration plan for senior cricket.

For more, e-mail de Silva on highgatefixturessecretary@gmail.com or call him on 07481 622191.

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