Disability cricket role model receives Inspire Award at The Oval

HAMPSHIRE Super 1s cricketer Sophie Leonard was recognised for driving the growth of disability cricket across her county with a Lord’s Taverners Inspire Award presented to her at The Oval. 

The selfless sporting role model has been attending the disability cricket programme for more than eight years and is a key member of Hampshire’s Super 1s Adders squad. 

Super 1s is a national programme that gives young people with a disability the chance to play regular competitive cricket while improving their confidence and independence. 

She was presented with the surprise award by Chris Woakes, who was speaking at a celebration evening for the programme’s success over the past 12 months. 

She said: “There are no words to describe it, I’m on top of the world right now. 

“There’s so much emotion, so many people have come up to me, shook hands and you can feel it around the room, the positivity of raising money andawareness of disability cricket. 

“With people like Chris Woakes backing us up it just makes it amazing.

Super 1s is supported by the Berkeley Foundation, who are continuing their partnership of the life-changing national disability cricket programme for another three years. 

The free and inclusive cricket programme is now being delivered in every English county, Scotland, and Wales, with support from the ECB also proving vital in the expansion of the programme.

Leonard got involved with Super 1s after being handed a flyer by former teacher Peter Francis at Oak Lodge School. 

And since stepping up to the stumps, the teenager’s confidence has skyrocketed as cricket remains front and centre in her life.

She said: “This award is not only for me but it’s for all my people back home, all my team and I’m going to go, “this may have my name on it, but this is for you, this is about us”. 

“The fact that this is the only programme in the world like this, as big as it is, means it needs to keep growing. 

“There may be other countries who look at this who go, “we can do that, we can build better communities and better areas for cricket and kids with a disability”. 

“There needs to be involvement throughout life because it improves those kids’ lives, and it improves everybody’s lives. 

“I need to encourage other people so it’s not just me as a role model, I want to have ten role models standing by my side and showing what this sport can offer.”

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