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What do you call a team that has essentially been created, coached and cared for by one individual, and his name is Mikey Thompson. The team that played its first game on a traditional cricket ground at North London Cricket Club on Friday evening (28 June) had played all its previous cricket in a MUGA or community hall at Chestnuts Park in Haringey, so the title of Mikey Thompson’s All-Stars, for the time being, seems a more apt name for the new cricket team to come out of this corner of London.

The switch that ignited the desire to play cricket in the area was flicked two years ago by Middlesex in the Community (MiTC) cricket coaches who, as part of the National Chance To Shine programme, visited local Primary Schools to coach cricket. The aim was and remains to reinvigorate cricket within an area where there are limited spaces to play sport and it was the commitment, support and desire to play cricket at these schools that led to Chance to Shine Street sessions being organized in Chestnuts Park on a Saturday morning. And it was here where Mikey took over and came into his own. During the past two years Mikey has been helped by other Middlesex coaches, including Quentin Benningfield, Yolanda Mackie and Matthew Key, but it is his passion for the game and trust amongst the local community that has made this project the success it is.

In the beginning there were around 20 young boys and girls aged between of 5-11 turning up to have two hours of fun playing cricket. Since those early days the number has steadily risen and now more than 50 youngsters are attending on a regular basis. During the summer months the sessions take place in a MUGA and during the winter in a community hall within the park. In total cricket is provided 40 weeks per year. These numbers and the development of the cricketers he was coaching encouraged Mikey to use his links with local clubs to organize matches, the first of which took place last Friday.

With the sun out, a BBQ roaring and hundreds of children playing on the numerous grounds that call Shepherds Cot their home, the vision of cricket was somewhat different to that Mikey’s All-Stars had previously experienced. The move to this glorious part of North London was not new to all of the All-Stars as a number of them had joined the clubs of North London, Highgate, Crouch End or North Middlesex.

When the first ball of the game was bowled Mikey admitted he had a tear in his eye. ‘I am super, super proud of what is taking place at Chestnuts Park. We have seen amazing change take place in a space where there was no cricket. The good goes further than the cricket too – to see the reaction of the local community has been extremely heart-warming.

‘I have to admit watching the team walk out did bring a tear to my eye and I was delighted by the way they played. For many this was their first proper game, their first on a traditional ground, and it was great to see so many parents there enjoying the event. We hope to organize another couple of fixtures against Crouch End and Highgate, and ultimately I want them to play in a league.’

Mikey being Mikey – his work is never done and the cricket offering at Chestnuts Park is set to increase over the coming weeks as youngsters take part on summer schools festivals, which start on 3 and 11 July.

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