Market Overton Cricket Club unveil new three-lane net training area
A state-of-the-art cricketing facility at a Rutland club is opening up more opportunities for the community.
Market Overton have installed a new three-lane net training area at their Thistleton Road ground this summer.
The English Cricket Board have helped fund the new facility through its Transforming Women's and Girls scheme.
And chairman Mark Hudson feels the club are already benefiting from the new addition with around 170 juniors registered for Marko this summer.
He said: "It has allowed us to attract and take on more children in a state-of-the-art environment.
"It's really opened up opportunities for children to come down and train and we are already reaping the benefits.
"We are also hoping to encourage local schools who perhaps don't have the facilities to get in contact with us and use it.
"This whole project was never just about Market Overton Cricket Club. It was about the whole community, shaped around women's and girls cricket."
The new artificial nets were officially unveiled at the club's junior presentation night last Friday evening.
Leicestershire County Cricket Club's Head of Community, Andy Hibberd, was in attendance along with Ged McDougall who is the ECB's facilities and planning manager for the East Midlands.
It is the next stage in the club's development after recent extensions to coincide with the rise of women's and girls cricket.
Hibbard commented: "The club has grown its women's and girls section substantially over the past few years, to the point where they didn't have any adequate training facilities.
"The investment from the ECB is going to change the whole face of the club and the opportunity that it brings to young players, women and girls and seniors and everyone at the club.
"It's a massive face-lift to the club which is really needed.
"The club does punch above its weight, given where it's located in a very rural area. They've got lots of juniors, women's and girls cricket coming out of a small village which does really buck the trend.
"The women's and girls have been fully integrated into the club. There's more female members on the committee and it's not just an add on which has a huge key.
"They've also invested heavily inside the pavilion to make it a more welcoming environment for everyone.
"They are doing everything right to make female players feel welcome which has added up to the commitment which the ECB made to help fund it."
Club secretary Alex Laybourne was instrumental in building the business case to present to the ECB to release the funding.
McDougall explained: "We've used a capital pot called Transforming Women's and Girls which has been the lead for this.
"There's three nets rather than the traditional two so that the county can use it for women's and girls training and practice as well.
"It's great for the club but also for Leicestershire to have this sort of facility over this side of the county.
"Market Overton have really developed their women's and girls teams and have put themselves into a position to use that part of the capital funding which is good to see.
"It's been one of three projects across the Midlands and it's a real positive impact across the local area. They have deserved the help and will put it to good use."