Young people with disabilities representing Ralph Thoresby School (Leeds) have qualified for the Lord’s Taverners National Table Cricket Finals at Lord’s on 17 June after winning their regional finals at the home of Yorkshire CCC, Headingley.

Six schools from across Yorkshire travelled to Headingley last week (5 May) to take part in the regional finals in a bid to book their place for the once in a lifetime opportunity to qualify for the National Finals at the home of cricket.

Beckfoot School (Bradford), Mowbray School (Bedale), Cambian Spring Hill School (Ripon), St Marys College (Hull) and Linkage College (Grimsby) all won their county competitions to reach the regional finals at Headingley but it was Ralph Thoresby who came out as winners on the day.

Table cricket, delivered by the Lord’s Taverners in conjunction with local county cricket boards, is an adapted version of cricket, played on a table tennis table. Aimed at 8-25 year-olds, it is inclusive and young people living with a wide range of learning and complex physical disabilities take part.

Many young people living with severe physical or learning disabilities, particularly wheelchair users, have limited opportunities to participate in sport. But table cricket provides an opportunity for these young people to compete, socialise and have fun, regardless of ability or disability.

The emphasis of playing is on enjoyment and developing social skills through interaction with friends and others they meet in competitions. The game helps players develop cognitive and coordination skills, and learn how to win and lose. Being part of a team helps players feel included, valued and proud to represent their schools.

The young people taking part have been some of the most significantly affected by the pandemic, due to them being deemed vulnerable and therefore limited by some of the more restrictive lockdown measures. Table Cricket has long been a fantastic outlet for these young people and the return of competitions is a very positive step forward for everyone who plays the game.

Teacher at Ralph Thoresby School, Jane Gibson, said: “The team really enjoyed their day at Headingley and being able to play a table cricket competition again after all this time. One of our players, Michael Bottomley, who is new to the team and played his first ever match said it best, ‘that first game, I will remember for the rest of my life. I loved it.’

The Lord’s Taverners charity exists to positively impact the lives of young people with disabilities and from disadvantaged communities facing the challenges of inequality.

Events like this are made possible thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL). Players of PPL play with their postcodes to win cash prizes while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and internationally, and their support of the Lord’s Taverners has helped young people with disabilities play table cricket and benefit from all the personal development opportunities taking part in the sport offers.

To find out more about table cricket please visit here.

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