Busy first six months for new clubs and community coach in South Devon area

Niall Leahy - the new clubs and community coach for South Devon

By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE

NIALL Leahy can look back on a busy first six months in place as the Devon Cricket Board’s club and community officer for the south of the county.

Leahy started work in May just as cricket was emerging from the worst of the Covid lockdown regulations and started getting round his new parish.

The South Devon district arcs from Kingsbridge and Dartmouth in the west through Bovey Tracey and Newton Abbot out to Kenn in the east and includes Torbay and Teignmouth inside its boundaries.

It’s a large patch to work and Leahy spent most of his first two months visiting around 30 primary schools promoting the All Starts and Dynamos programmes at nearby clubs.

“Niall certainly hit the ground running,” said Alex Jopling, the DCB’s clubs and programmes manager.

“Niall will be looking to meet all of the clubs in his area to understand how he can best support them, particularly with school delivery.

“It is fantastic to have Niall in post in South Devon, meaning we now have a full-time club and community coach in all four areas of the county.”

The DCB has a lot to offer primary schools and clubs, which will keep Leahy busy filling up the diary for the next 12 months and beyond.

“During the winter we will be running a primary school programme offering six weeks of skills development and one-off engagement days,” said Leahy. “Both point towards local clubs.

“Eight whole school programmes are planned along with 20 engagement days. I hope to see around 30 schools a year. 

“There is also a winter competition for secondary schools starting in January that will run in all four areas and culminates in finals at the University of Exeter.”

Niall Leahy at work at a South Devon primary schoolLooking further ahead there is a hardball festival at Topsham to organise and a secondary school tournament to reactivate for 2022. 

Getting former players re-engaged through secondary school visits is another aim, as is delivery training for teachers.

Leahy, now 22, began his cricket journey aged six or seven watching his grandad play village cricket for Black Torrington.

Around the age of 12 he was introduced to the youth section at Hatherleigh which, although he did not know it at the time, was the start of his journey towards his current job.

“I started to help with youth coaching at Hatherleigh at 16 and completed the level two coaching course not long after,” said Leahy.

Leahy’s commitment to coaching – he looked after hardball, All Stars and colts at Hatherleigh – led to a DCB Outstanding Services to Cricket Award (or cricket ‘Oscar’) nomination when he was just 18 years old in the young volunteer category.

Following secondary education at Okehampton College and Exeter College, Leahy completed a three-year degree course in PE and coaching at the University of Gloucester.

Leahy’s club and community role with the DCB is his first job since leaving university. The post is partly funded by the South Devon District Coaches Association.

Clubs and schools in South Devon can contact Leahy via niall.leahy@devoncricket.co.uk or 07508 893666

Coach at work – Niall during a day at a Torbay School