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Trailblazing girls’ cricket team launches academy for younger players

A BRADFORD school’s girls’ cricket team who were crowned Yorkshire champions in their first year together have now launched their own academy to help younger pupils to follow in their footsteps.

The girls’ cricket team at Carlton Bolling, in Bradford, have been on a rollercoaster ride since coming together just three years ago.

In their first tournament the newly formed team won seven out of seven matches against some of the best school sides in Yorkshire to be crowned county champions and they have not looked back.

They have now won three Yorkshire titles, have just been crowned North of England champions and have also been recognised with a string of awards for their achievements.

Last week the team won four out of four matches in a regional competition, beating Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Northumberland sides, to emerge as North of England Champions.  Their next stop will be Lord’s for the National Finals in September.

Now the team of players who achieved this stunning success on the field are looking to pass on what they have learned to new generations of pupils at the school in Undercliffe.

Each week the under 15s team, led by the school’s PE teacher Zaheer Jaffary, host a training session for younger pupils at the school who are trying the sport for the first time.

Around 20 pupils are now learning to play the sport each week.

One of the original team members Zainab Goreja said they had started an academy to ensure that girls’ cricket can continue to grow at the school.

She said: “I definitely hope that the success of the team carries on because this is our legacy.  We have started this academy, we have so many girls who are coming through and so many talents who are here. At the end of the day this is what we have started and when we leave next year we want this team to carry on. I hope the new players do well, carry on this legacy and hopefully it can keep on growing because we are going to change so many social barriers.”

The success of the Carlton Bolling girls’ cricket team has seen them receive many accolades in recent months. In November last year they traveled to Lord’s to receive a national Chance to Shine Special Recognition Award for their work supporting grassroots cricket which they were given by England cricketer Jason Roy.

The team have also won the student sport award category at this year’s Bradford Sports Awards and Mr Jaffary was named Secondary School Teacher of the Year award at the Bradford and District Teaching awards.

Vice-Captain of the team, Zainab Goreja, was recently presented with the 2017 International Rising Star award in London for her contribution to sport; in acknowledgement of her dedication and commitment to women’s cricket, and Captain Jasmin Akter was nominated for a 2017 Yorkshire Women of Achievement Award.

However for Mr Jaffary one of the team’s biggest achievements has been overcoming cultural barriers which saw many families express concerns about their daughters taking part in the sport.

He said: “It is something we have come up against, there has been some reluctance from families for their daughters to stay behind after school to play cricket.  However we hope that our community can see what these girls have achieved together. What they have been able to bring to the team and what being a part of this team has done for them. It is brilliant that our girls’ cricket team are now carrying out coaching themselves at our academy.

“We want their success to inspire the younger pupils to follow their example. The future of the team relies upon the academy the girls have set up for future cricketers. The girls are extremely dedicated in sharing their story with others to help them see all that can be achieved through perseverance and dedication.”

Carlton Bolling College’s Headteacher Adrian Kneeshaw said: “The success of the girls’ cricket team has been inspirational for everyone at the school.  At Carlton Bolling we recognise the important role sport can have in giving our pupils self-confidence and in showing them the rewards of hard work and of dedicating yourself to being the best you can be.  This helps students on the sports field and in the classroom and I hope our cricket academy will inspire many more of our students to take up cricket and give it their all.”

Coun Imran Khan, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Education, Employment and Skills said: “The success of the girls’ cricket team at Carlton Bolling College is a story which we can all take inspiration from.  They have achieved so much in such a short space of time.

“It is a great credit to the players involved that they are now committed to helping younger pupils at the school to follow in their footsteps.

“We know that participating in sport can be very rewarding for young people and have a positive effect on the rest of their education.”

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