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Community Coach Catch up: Sophie Luff

It’s been a busy summer for Sophie Luff.

The 23 year old captained the Somerset Women’s team to promotion back in to the top flight of the domestic 50-over competition and also played a huge part in Western Storm winning the 2017 Kia Super League title.

However, it is her work off the field that has drawn equal amounts of praise from her colleagues at the Somerset Cricket Board.

18 months ago Sophie joined SCB as a part time Community Coach to work alongside Andrew Skidmore and Alex Taylor to help take cricket to schools, clubs and groups throughout the county. During that time she has really taken to the role.

Sophie, who hails from Lympsham, has risen through the playing ranks since she joined Somerset at the age of 12 and couldn’t ask for a better job. “I absolutely love it,” she said. “I love going in to schools and delivering sessions to children of all ages. We’ve got a new schools programme which focusses on Key Stage One and Key Stage Two which is great because I really enjoy getting the little ones to play cricket. The best part of the job is seeing the kid’s faces after you’ve delivered a really good session. It’s great to hear them say that they can’t wait to play cricket again next week. It’s great to be able to make that connection and make people excited by cricket”.

What does the role of Community Coach entail? “Basically our job is to go in to schools and community groups and deliver coaching,” she said. “Our work is mainly primary school based at the moment and we offer multi-skills activities with a cricket theme where we focus on a range of different elements like teamwork through cricket.”

Sophie has also enjoyed helping to deliver the ECB’s All Stars Programme this summer. “With All Stars you can see that there’s a real push to get more youngsters playing cricket,” she said. “I started by playing in the back garden with my dad and brother and I think that opportunity has been lost by a lot of children these days, so for every child involved in All Stars to get a bat and a ball is a great step in the right direction. Getting young people to play the game is what we are trying to do.”

With the popularity of women’s cricket at an all-time high after England’s World Cup win Sophie believes that now is the time to build on that. “People are now talking about women’s sport and women’s cricket especially after the success of the world cup so we need go in to schools and use that story and use people like Anya Shrubsole as examples of what you can achieve.

“Being female I think it’s really important that I can go in to schools and potentially help to break down some barriers for girls who perhaps until that moment didn’t think that cricket could be an option for them. Hopefully I can show girls that there is the opportunity to take up cricket. I’ve done quite a bit of Western Storm ambassador work which involves us staging some girl’s cricket camps but I think that if girls see a female leading a session at a school, that might spur them on to see how they can get involved.”

Sophie has also enjoyed working with the Board’s other Community Coaches. “Andrew, Alex and I are a pretty good team,” she said. “We always help each other out when we’re in the office as much as we can with session ideas and that sort of thing. They both do a fantastic job when they go out to schools or deliver sessions here at the Cooper Associates County Ground. Everyone at the Cricket Board is great. I never used to like working in an office based environment but I really enjoy coming in to work here. They’ve definitely changed my opinion of what working in an office can be all about!”

She also believes that a close working relationship with Somerset County Cricket Club is vital. “It’s really important to work closely with the County Club,” she said. “Although we’re technically separate entities, we’re based at the same place and we all want the same things. We all want more people playing cricket and we all want the First XI to win the County Championship. We’re all in it together and that’s a good place to be.”

The nature of the role also allows Sophie to spend time developing her own game as she explained. “The beauty of working part time means that I can also focus on my cricket,” she said. “Ultimately I want to play for England, so working part time gives me that flexibility to play and train. As well as the Western Storm commitments I play club cricket for Bath and county cricket for Somerset. We got promoted in county cricket last year so hopefully we can stay up next year. We’ve got some good young girls coming through the pathway and we want them to be playing to the best standard possible against the best opposition. If you’re in the top flight you’ll be testing yourself against the best players and the best counties.”

What impact does Sophie think the Kia Super League has had on the women’s game? “I think the KSL has helped things massively,” she said. “There’s been a big shift between county cricket and international cricket and the KSL has found a place for players like me who are fighting for an England place and it gives good players even more opportunities to show exactly what they can do. With games being shown live on Sky Sports, people are seeing the games more and talking about them which can only be a good thing.”

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground