As part of the roadmap out of lockdown, outdoor facilities such as tennis and basketball courts have reopened in England this week, seeing a welcome return of grassroots sport.
To help children get active after months of being at home, 15 students from the University of Sunderland are volunteering at cricket clubs across the North East.
It is part of the All Stars Cricket programme, which provides five to eight-year-olds with two months of sporting fun over the summer.
Claire Gibbons, who is studying Nutrition, Exercise and Health at the University, is one of the volunteers.
“Not having the opportunity to exercise has had a negative effect on both mental and physical health,” the 49-year-old said.
“Many children have not had a large garden to run about in during lockdown, so they won’t have had the opportunity to exercise as much.
“This could lead to a loss in fitness and confidence levels, which will take time to rebuild.”
The course is for all backgrounds and abilities and those taking part will receive a goody bag with their own kit.
Claire, from Wolsingham in County Durham, added: “This is not a competition, it’s about getting children moving and involved but most of all having fun, something that’s been lacking for so many during lockdown.
“I have been a fan of cricket from an early age and been lucky enough to watch it all over the world. I have never actually played, though so I’m excited to get involved and play some cricket with the children.
“Who knows, we may come across our next Heather Knight or Joe Root!”
Rob Graham is Sport Development Officer for the University of Sunderland.
He said: “The appetite these student volunteers have shown for wanting to get out into the community and support kids getting back into grassroots sport has been fantastic.
“There seems to be a collective understanding that this has been a difficult year for everyone but in particular for our children, who have been starved of opportunities to play and interact with each other through sport.
“As well as being beneficial for the children taking part, I think it’s also important from the perspective of our students that they go out and test the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired during their degree programme in a practical setting.
“Sport volunteering is an opportunity to further develop competency and fine tune those softer, interpersonal skills that will benefit our students for life.”