Coach Profile: Sophie Luff Sophie Luff is a Community Coach for Somerset Cricket Board (SCB) and was named Schools Coach of the Year at the 2019 Chance to Shine Awards. Along with her role as Women and Girl’s Performance Head Coach for SCB, Sophie was part of the Western Storm team that won the Kia Super League in 2017 and 2019. Why did you decide to become a coach? Coaching is something that has always appealed to me. Having played the game for a long time, coaching was one way of giving back to the game. I was lucky enough to get a temporary contract coaching in schools for Somerset Cricket Board back in the summer of 2016 and I’ve been there ever since! What do you love about being a coach? Coaching allows me to show and hopefully pass on my passion for cricket. The great thing about my working week as a coach, is working with so many different people, both children and staff. Every day is different, every session is different, and I get to have an impact on young children. That impact can be in a number of ways, from them falling in love with the game, increasing their confidence or just getting them more physically active. What has been your most rewarding moment as a coach? I never get tired of going into schools and children recognising you, whether that’s because you are working with them on a weekly basis or you have coached them in the past at that school. A lot of the time, they are excited to see you or excited because seeing you means they get to do cricket today, hopefully that says a lot about the impact I have had on them! Being recognised as Chance to Shine Schools’ Coach of the Year 2019 was obviously a career highlight to date. As a community coach, sometimes you do feel as though no one really sees what you do day to day, so to be recognised for the work I have done and continue to do was special. Why do you think it is important to give children the opportunity to experience cricket? It’s a brilliant sport that all young children should have the opportunity to experience. There are so many different elements to the game, more often than not you can find a part of the game that everyone can achieve something in. The fact we are now delivering in schools to Key Stage One children is really positive. I strongly believe that at that age, those children don’t have a perception of what cricket is or what it’s all about and therefore you can really shape the perception they have. That for me is really powerful. How does your experience as a cricketer translate to your coaching? I’d like to think that my experiences as a player enable me to relate to young participants. I’m very passionate about the game and I’d like to think that comes across in every single session I deliver, whether that’s with 30 Year 1 children or a group of secondary school girls. I’m involved at Somerset County Cricket Club heading up the Women and Girls performance pathway as well, a system I was once a part of, hopefully I can offer them the support I think they need as I’ve been there and done it. A lot of the time, females often lack confidence and that’s a massive focus for me as a coach, we often don’t believe in ourselves! Coaching has definitely increased my confidence and it’s probably benefitted my own game as a result. What does it mean to you to be a female role-model? I feel very privileged to be a female role model. It’s fantastic and equally important that there are more female role models these days. When I grew up, I used to watch Marcus Trescothick and grew up playing in boys teams. These days, girls have so many amazing role models in the game, like Heather Knight and Anya Shrubsole and a lot more opportunities to get involved, either at school or by joining girls teams at clubs. I think female role models within a coaching environment in particular can help young girls realise that cricket is a game for them and I think it breaks down a few perceptions that boys may have about cricket too. What impact has the KSL had on you as an individual and a coach? The KSL was a great opportunity for me. To represent my region through Western Storm for the past 4 years has been an unbelievable experience. We were obviously very successful as a team so I look back on those memories really fondly. It certainly improved me as a player and I’ve certainly got a few more stories to tell when I go into schools. Being able to show some of the children I work with the trophy we won and to see their reactions was brilliant. I did a lot of ambassador work with Western Storm which fitted nicely with my role as a community coach in trying to inspire and engage the next generation.