Giving up his spare time to help develop young players has earned Legbourne Cricket Club volunteer Greg Smith the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)’s coach of the year award.
The under 13s coach picked up the national honour at the ECB’s Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards (OSCAs), staged in front of the great and the good at Lord’s, including England bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and former England opener Marcus Trescothick.
Greg (39) was joined at the prestigious ceremony by clubmate Adam Grist who was invited as a regional winner in the Outstanding Contribution category.
As well as coaching the under 13s, Greg, who has been with the club for six years, also finds time to skipper the club’s senior XI and co-ordinates the Friday evening junior coaching.
Greg said: “I want to say a big thank-you to all those who support Legbourne, from players and parents to the children on a Friday night, who prove that grassroots cricket is alive and well here in Lincolnshire.
“Thanks to (secretary) Pat (King) for submitting my entry and the supportive comments from everyone at the club. Also to Adam for his continued support and the partnership with Louth Cricket Club.
“And special thanks to my wife Louise for her support and understanding that cricket comes before horses!”
The future of the village club was in jeopardy around a decade ago when the senior team withdrew from the league.
But a decision to put junior cricket at the heart of a revamped club would prove a big turning point.
Greg began the Friday evening junior sessions with a dozen children which has grown to more than 30 a week and spawned a host of successful teams.
The under 11s team, set up in 2013, have won their East Lindsey League title for three years running, and in 2015 won both league and cup.
In 2014, Greg took over he management and coaching of the under 13s who last year won the league and cup double and reached the semi-finals of the county cup.
“We are very fortunate to have a host of volunteers and coaches supporting our junior cricketers,” said Legbourne CC president Phil Sturman.
“Greg and Adam have inspired many children and parents to become part of Legboune cricket.”
Both Adam and Greg have also encouraged parents to become involved, and the club now boasts four ECB Level 2 qualified coaches and two ECB qualified coaching assistants.
The pair also linked up with Louth CC to set up winter indoor training for the juniors.
Club secretary Pat King added: “We have had another great year with more children participating in cricket coaching and matches as a result our new joint venture with Louth Cricket Club.
“Our senior team is into its second year and our youngsters now have the chance to play cricket for as long as they wish.
“Greg and Adam totally reflect the club ethos that welcomes cricketers of all abilities.
“The awards at regional and national level recognise this along with their dedication and commitment to our club, the community and grassroots cricket.”