Howzat, Flintoff at Bolton School
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Andrew Flintoff took time off from bowling out the Aussies to visit his Cricket Academy at Bolton School.
The England all-rounder landed by helicopter on the School's lacrosse pitch and quickly developed a bond with the school children as he threw himself into the training programme - although not too vigorously as he prepares himself for next week's third Test in the Ashes Series! After offering some expert advice, guidance and encouragement, he held a questions and answers session with the participants before signing autographs and chatting further to the children.
The 109 boys and girls, aged 5-16 and of all levels of ability, have been enjoying a fantastic opportunity to learn cricket the Andrew Flintoff way as they take part in his one-week Cricket Academy at the School. The week is one of fourteen academies taking place across the UK. "Freddie" has had real input into the week-long course, which is made up of lots of cricket, Freddie Challenges, swimming sessions and mini-tournaments, with a number of prizes and awards being given out.
The aim of the academies is to inspire an early interest in cricket and they are suitable for anyone that enjoys the game. Cricket has given me so much and my academy is the perfect way for me to pass on the passion and love I have for the game.
During the questions and answers session, Flintoff talked candidly about his career, citing his father as his biggest influence and recalling playing his first game for Lancashire U11s at the age of 9. He said he started off as a batter and still prefers batting to bowling. He talked about having had a number of injuries throughout his career and of having four operations on his ankle alone - his current injury he said is as bad as any. He has a preference for 20/20 cricket over Test cricket, enjoying the fact that, at the age of 31, he only has to bowl 4 overs and then "you can have a bit of a slog!". His favourite ground is Old Trafford but thinks the best cricketing arena in the world is Lords.
Looking forward to his last three Test matches he hoped he could secure one more century for England. He felt the Ashes was going to be very close but that England were in a strong position. He said of the 2005 victory, "it was the most amazing feeling ever to win the Ashes."
Approximately half of the course participants were boys from Bolton School, particularly from the Junior School. Bertie Moores, a Year 7 pupil at the School said: "I can't fault this course, it has been lots of fun and I've also learnt all sorts of new tricks and techniques that I will be able to use in School cricket."
The Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy is run by Activate Sport in partnership with The Cooperative Food and is co-sponsored by Barclays Capital and Puma. The coaching was delivered by 10 ECB qualified coaches. Luke Sutton, who is wicket keeper for Lancashire as well as being part of the Activate Sport team said: "It is a great pleasure for us to be able to run Freddie's Academy at such an exciting time for English cricket and at such a great venue like Bolton School."