RECENTLY a 15-year-old girl who attends Castle School in Taunton launched a free after school coaching scheme to enable more state school pupils to have the opportunity to play cricket.

Anu Balasubramaniam set up Fair Games coaching after realising that the majority of those she plays alongside in the Somerset CCC Girls Under 15s, are educated in the private sector.

The left arm spin bowler said: “The majority of my peers who I play cricket for the county with go to private schools so I wanted to investigate why this was. I did some research into how much cricket primary schools play and how cost affects the level of participation.

“Children who attend schools in the private sector get a lot more hours of coaching than state school pupils do. I think that every child should have the opportunity to play cricket regardless of how much money they have or where they go to school.”

The youngster then pitched her idea to Russell Jones, the Head of Sport at Castle School, who is well known in local sporting circles and plays cricket for Taunton Deane.

Somerset County Gazette: Anu Balasubramaniam right with Russell Jones.

“I went to Mr Jones with my idea that I wanted to increase the level of state school pupils competing at county level in sports and he told me to go away and come up with a plan which I did. Everyone at school has just been so helpful.

“I sent out an email to all of the primary schools in the area and also went along to some of the local primaries to talk to them.”

The Head of Sport said: “She sourced the equipment herself and had over 30 year five and six primary pupils signed up who came along to the first session

“Anu is an inspirational young girl and I am keen for her to have the platform that this deserves in terms of getting the story and vision out there.”

Since its launch last month Fair Games has just taken off and every Monday evening 30 or so youngsters boys and girls the large majority of who have never played before go along and enjoy their free coaching session.

Anu’s idea stretches beyond cricket as she explained: “In September we are going to be starting up hockey with Miss James who is an England Masters player and recently participated in helping to win the home nations championship.”

She added: “I just want more children to have the opportunity to have the opportunity to play sports regardless of where they go to school, thats the most important thing for me.”