Young New Forest cricketer wins national award after inspiring and supporting others
A YOUNG cricketer from Hampshire was presented with a national award by one of England’s Ashes team after becoming a role model for women and girls with a disability within the sport.
Sophie Leonard (19), who lives in the New Forest, was presented with a Lord’s Taverners Inspire Award by England all-rounder Chris Woakes and Australian comic and Last Leg presenter Adam Hills at a Super 1s celebration evening at The Oval in London.
She was one of just two young people with a disability nationally to receive the award, given each year to recognise a commitment to the Lord’s Taverners Super 1s cricket programme.
Super 1s, a national programme delivered locally by the Hampshire Cricket Board, is a free and inclusive cricket scheme aimed at anyone aged 12-25 who lives with a disability and would like to play regular and competitive cricket.
Leonard began attending the Hampshire Cricket Board-run Super 1s sessions after being given a flyer by one of her teachers.
Leonard, who lives with severe dyslexia, found school and making friends challenging. She also lacked confidence and was initially unsure about trying cricket but decided to take the plunge and go along.
She has not looked back. She has rarely missed a session in eight years, her confidence has skyrocketed, and she’s a genuine role model to other young people taking their first steps in the sport.
Lucy Tillotson, who coaches Hampshire Adders and delivers Super 1s sessions for Hampshire Cricket Board, praised Leonard. She said: “Sophie has become an amazing young lady, full of empathy for others.
“She is quick to pick up when any of the girls are feeling low or struggling and is always one of the first to welcome new girls, encourage our younger ones, and make sure everyone is okay.
“Girls’ sports need more players like Sophie who want to encourage others to join in, to make friends, and know that although winning is good, taking part and feeling part of a team is far more important.”
After being presented with her award, a delighted but typically modest Leonard said: “This award is not only for me, but it’s for all my people back home and all my team. I’m going to tell them, ‘This may have my name on it, but this is for you. This is about us.’”
Super 1s is supported by the Berkeley Foundation, which recently announced it would continue funding the initiative for a further three years.
To find out how to get involved with Super 1s sessions in Hampshire, email firstname.lastname@example.org