Queens of the Castle The girls’ team at the Castle School in Taunton have had an outstanding year of cricket. Their under 15 side came first in the Chance to Compete regional final, while their under 13 side were runners up. Russ Jones, Head of PE, is keen to stress the importance of Chance to Compete for having something to work towards and develop through. “Our provision for girls’ cricket rivals private schools. We give up so many hours, before and after school, like our morning club that starts at 7.45am. Even on dark wintery mornings we have lots of girls turn up, and then we have the Chance to Compete competitions in the summer. If there are no opportunities to compete like this, where are these girls going to play and gain the confidence from performing?” The girls have built a strong bond and a team spirit that is having a huge impact beyond the boundary. Step into a session led by Russ and you will hear whoops and cheers, support from the older pupils to the younger and a positive environment that is allowing the girls to thrive. Teachers at the Castle school recognises how cricket can help girls develop confidence and friendships. “We’re all one big family” says Daisy, a Year 9 “We’re all one big family” says Daisy, a Year 9 pupil, “I didn’t have many friends and when I play cricket I just met more people.” Amy, a pupil from the year below, has also made a range of new friends through playing in the team: Most of the people here I didn’t even know before but now I know everyone!” Hannah Hughes, Specialist Teacher in the school’s Special Educational Needs Department, has played a key role in helping the girls to grow and develop through playing cricket. “We’ve got a lot of girls who have additional needs that play cricket. We’re developing the social skills of some of the quite vulnerable children within the school community. The ones that are quite socially savvy, they take on leadership roles, they’re able to guide, they’re able to help each other, there’s a lot of mentoring that goes on.” Off the pitch, the girls are clearly seeing the value that the sport can bring to them.