A BRAND new coaching programme aims to turn cricket into one of the Borders mainstream sports.

All Stars Cricket aims to inspire five to eight year old children to take up the sport through a fun first experience of the game.

The Cricket Scotland eight week programme begins in May and will see participating boys and girls develop their skills and make new friends in a safe and inclusive environment at one of the 50 Scottish cricket clubs who have signed up to host and run the sessions.

Among those hosting the sessions are Gala, Selkirk, Kelso, St Boswells, Hawick, Peebles and Langholm cricket clubs.

The programme is launched on the back of statistics which show just two per cent of UK children aged seven to 15 named cricket as their favourite sport, and three in five youngsters did not name cricket in their top ten sports.

Ian Sandbrook, who lives in Gattonside, is director of participation at Cricket Scotland. He told us: “We believe All Stars Cricket could be a game-changer for the sport in Scotland.

“We think the programme will provide children and their parents with an outstanding first step into the sport and help create a generation of youngsters with a lifelong love of the game.

“Our excitement stems from the huge number of benefits which the scheme provides.

“As well as the personalised participant pack sent to each child’s door as part of an easy online registration process, All Stars Cricket involves nine out of 10 fundamental movement skills, is fun, safe and inclusive and gives the children the chance to rub shoulders with the elite players in Scotland.

“We think this makes All Stars Cricket the leading entry level sports programme in the UK.

“We are confident that if we get this right our clubs and sport will get a significant boost that will put cricket in Scotland into the mainstream.”

The cost of All Stars Cricket is £40 per child.

The programme involves eight, one-hour sessions at a local cricket club starting from the end of May.

Registration is open now with each child receiving a pack of cricket goodies including a cricket bat, ball, backpack, water bottle, personalised shirt and cap to keep so that they can continue their love of cricket when they go home.

There will also be a chance for youngsters to meet current Scotland internationalists as part of All Stars Cricket, which will be led by fully trained and vetted activators at each club.

To sign up, visit www.allstarscricket.co.uk