Community Coach Catch Up: Andrew Skidmore

As we continue our profile of the Somerset Cricket Board’s Community Coaches, we turn the spotlight on Andrew Skidmore today.

29 year old Andrew, who hails from Bridgwater, has been in the role for more than two and a half years after being appointed on a full time basis in 2015.

We asked him how the position has changed in that time. “The role has varied slightly,” he said. “Originally we were mainly working in secondary schools but now were are more focused on primary schools. I think it’s a really important role and one that is constantly changing. We could be in a primary school in the morning, working with a disability group in the afternoon and then with a community group in the evening. The variation of never really having two days the same is the best part of the job. It really keeps you on your toes.

As Andrew explained, it’s not just about the active sessions. “A lot of planning goes in to each session but you need to be able to be flexible as well,” he said. “You need to really get to know the group you’re working with too, so you need to communicate with teachers and carers in order to help understand how they learn best. Once you get to know a group you can really start to tailor your sessions.

“Sometimes it’s not so much about the content that you deliver but about how you deliver that content. It’s about your skills as a coach and knowing the children more than it is about the technicalities of the game. You need to be able to adapt your approach depending on who you are delivering to.”

Andrew has played a major role in Somerset County Cricket Club’s work with Selworthy Special School, about which he said: “We’ve been working closely with Selworthy School and the relationship that has built up between the school, the Cricket Board and the County Club is a good one. The kids there seem to associate us with fun and enjoyment and there are a lot of good things happening there now.”

How does he get on with his fellow Community Coaches Alex Taylor and Sophie Luff? “We work really well together and have a great working relationship,” he said. “We don’t see as much of Alex because he is based in the north of the County but Sophie and I are based at the Cooper Associates County Ground. However, Alex and I took on these roles at the same time and we know each other really well and we work well together.”

Does he think that All Stars Cricket programme worked well in the County? “I think All Stars has had a really positive effect,” he said. “The Club that I delivered All Stars to didn’t have an age group for the five to eight year olds and now there are 35 children that age playing cricket. The ECB’s involvement took the pressure off clubs a little bit and I think we are seeing the benefit of that now.”

Recently he has been helping to deliver a different kind of cricket, as he explained: “We’ve been doing quite a lot of work with table cricket which is a different style of disability delivery. Whereas we’ve usually done inclusive cricket training, which is essentially actual cricket in big spaces with bats and balls, table cricket is much more for those who struggle with movement.

“We use table cricket in two ways. We use it with children with learning difficulties who struggle with focus in larger group sessions because it provides a quitter environment and we also use it with people who struggle with movement. The table is the same size as a table-tennis table with barriers around the outside. The ball is bowled by rolling the ball down a movable ramp. At the other end the batter uses a small bat and tries to hit the ball in to target areas. There are also fielders around the outside that you can slide along and if the ball hits the red part of a fielder it is out. It’s a great project and we are delivering a lot of it at the moment.”

How did Andrew get involved in cricket? “I live about 10 seconds from a cricket club in Bridgwater,” he explained. “My parents took me and my brothers down there regularly and we played our way through the junior sections. My dad was a member there and because it was so close it became a big part of our lives. My qualifications from university are in coaching so it was the ideal fit!”

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