CRICKET: Magnificent seven for North West teenagers

Aaron Gillespie of Strabane and Ireland Under 19s who is one of seven North West teenage cricketers accepted onto the North West Talent Project being run by Sport NI.
Aaron Gillespie of Strabane and Ireland Under 19s who is one of seven North West teenage cricketers accepted onto the North West Talent Project being run by Sport NI.

Seven of the North West’s most talented young cricketers have been accepted onto the prestigious North West Talent Project.

The pioneering scheme run by Sport Northern Ireland, will see the ‘magnificent seven’ embark on the 12 week project under the expert guidance of a variety of top class coaches.

The seven teenagers are Aaron Gillespie (Strabane), Reece Kelly and Alana Dalzell (both Bready), Ryan MacBeth (Brigade), Graham Kennedy (Ballyspallen), Aaron Heywood and Mollie Devine (both Fox Lodge).

North West Chairman Andrew Fleming was clearly delighted at having the seven accepted onto the scheme saying: “It’s a fantastic achievement to have the five boys and two girls enrolled onto the project.

“This year we have been working hard via the work both Brian Allen (North West Cricket Development Officer) and Colin Manson (Active Club Co-Ordinator) are carrying out to get more boys and girls playing cricket at grassroots level.

“It’s highly encouraging Sport Northern Ireland have come on board to support those players who are currently involved in National Youth Programmes being run by Cricket Ireland to prepare the elite youth cricketers of the region so they can challenge for International Honours.”

Michael Cooke of Sport NI said: “The North West talent project is designed to support aspiring young athletes to achieve their potential.

“We have a great group of athletes recently accepted into the project and my hope is that these guys can use this support to progress along their sporting pathways.

“In the long term it would be fantastic to see even one of the athletes on the programme go on to realise their dreams and compete at the highest level.

Trevor Hamilton, the North West Cricket Union Regional Youth Development Co-Ordinator echoed those sentiments saying: “The winter is a critical time for athlete/player development and the Development group have been working hard over the past two years to improve the youth programmes we can provide during the off season.

“This programme will give seven of our talented youth programme access to 12 weeks of Athlete Support via a Strength & Conditioning programme at the New Foyle Arena.

“They will also be educated on topics and themes which will aid their development.

“This is the first year cricket has been involved in this programme and we appreciate the support given by Sport Northern Ireland’s Michael Cooke and Cricket Ireland’s Performance Coach Ryan Eagleson during our application.”

The North West Talent Project programme starts this week and will run for the next 12 weeks.