Fairytale comes true for cricket coach

MARTIN Taylor is living proof that fairytales do come true.Suffolk's new cricket development manager took voluntary redundancy three years ago not knowing what he wanted to do with his working life.

Nick Garnham

MARTIN Taylor is living proof that fairytales do come true.

Suffolk's new cricket development manager took voluntary redundancy three years ago not knowing what he wanted to do with his working life.

What he did know was that after 25 years working in the retail sector he wanted a change of career.

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Taylor, who takes up his new post on Monday, said: "I didn't know what I wanted to do next, but I did know that I didn't want to carry on doing what I was.

"I spent the first winter working for Red Cross Retail as an area manager for all the Red Cross shops in Suffolk and Essex on a six-month contract. I met some of the most fantastic people, some of whom were so selfless, and it gave me a great insight into the world of voluntary work."

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That summer Taylor stepped in to take over running the junior section at Copdock & Old Ipswichian Cricket Club when the professional coach who was in charge left at short notice.

Taylor, who joined Copdock as a 14-year-old schoolboy and now lives in the adjoining village of Washbrook, said: "We were probably a week away from our junior section folding. I had no formal coaching qualifications but I was willing to give it a go.

"I remember my time as a junior at the club 30 years ago and could not bear to see the junior section fold. You could say that I felt a sense of duty or an obligation to get involved, but whatever it was I wanted the youngsters to have the same opportunities that I once had."

It was in that summer of 2006 that Taylor first met Michael Kay, the then recently-appointed cricket development manager for Suffolk, and his advice helped Taylor and the junior section to flourish.

Taylor said: "When I started we had 30 kids coming along each week, but by the end of the summer we had 75.

"That made us as a club think about what we were doing and we formed a proper junior sub-committee and went from there. Some of us committed to doing a coaching qualification and we went from having one qualified coach to having eight qualified coaches.

"Then in our second summer last year we went from having 75 to 134 youngsters in our junior section and we also started ladies' and girls' cricket teams at the club.

"This summer we have grown from 134 to 176 youngsters and we are now taking children in years one and two (five to seven year olds) and have now got 28 'Rascals' involved with Copdock.

"We now have 17 qualified coaches at the club and it is now at the stage that it is like a little business, and seeing what can happen really inspired me."

Taylor, who was still unemployed last summer, agreed to help out Ipswich Borough Council for a couple of weeks in June - and ending up staying for nine months.

He worked as a sports development officer and was heavily involved in projects such as Jumpers for Goalposts and Game On.

It was when Kay was promoted to a new job that Taylor realised he knew what he wanted to do, applied for the post as cricket development manager for Suffolk and was subsequently appointed by the ECB.

"It was only when Michael's job became available that I thought I had found what I may like to do for the next 15 years. It is a fairytale for me to work full time in cricket.

"I feel quite privileged. Not many people are lucky enough in life to find a job that is a vocation. It has taken me two-and-a-half years to find it, but I think I have now found it."

Norman Atkins, chairman of Suffolk Cricket Board, said of the appointment: "We are delighted to welcome Martin to Suffolk cricket. He has done a great job at Copdock with the junior section and his achievements at the club have enabled him to get this job."

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