Andy Wheeler has become the Gloucestershire Cricket Board’s (GCB) first full-time member of staff responsible for disability cricket.
The 37-year-old will take up the position of Super 1s disability development officer on April 9.
Funded by the Lord’s Taverners charity, the role aims to provide coaching and competitive opportunities for young people with disabilities across the county.
Andy joins the GCB after previously working for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the Worcestershire Cricket Board and Disability Sport Worcester.
A lifelong cricket fan, his interest in disability sport was sparked by watching England’s disability and VI teams in action and has grown from there.
“I am really excited. Cricket is my passion. I’ve been playing the game since I was smaller than a set of stumps. My other passion is disability sport and giving disabled people a chance to experience sport and physical activity. When you add in the fact that the GCB is one of the top performing cricket boards in the country it was a fantastic opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.”
Andy will work with new and existing GCB partners to create Super 1s disability hubs in communities throughout Gloucestershire. As well as giving people an enjoyable experience of cricket he hopes to use the game as a tool to help develop participants’ confidence, communication, leadership and independence.
He said: “I have seen firsthand the positive impact sport can have on the lives of people with disabilities. I read a government study that said if the benefits of physical activity were available through a drug it would cost billions of pounds – that’s how powerful it can be. Traditionally cricket has tended to have disability as a small part of someone’s role. To have it as the sole focus is really exciting and I am excited to see what we can achieve.”
The GCB currently provides coaching in all of the county’s SEN (Special Educational Needs) schools. It also runs county hardball, softball and visually impaired teams. There is also one disability club team, the Frenchay Falcons.
GCB chief executive Steve Silk said that Andy’s role would help support existing projects and create new opportunities for people with disabilities to access cricket.
“I am delighted to welcome Andy to the team. His passion and knowledge in both cricket and – more importantly – disability sport stood out to us.
“As the GCB’s first dedicated disability officer he has a unique opportunity to grow and shape this area of the game. It is clear that he shares our belief in the power of cricket to develop people and enhance their lives and his expertise will be a real benefit to our team.”