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After two years of rigorous hard work and sincere dedication, South East Stars’ Jennifer Jackson-Tullett recently received the prize she had her eyes on all this while – the certification of being an ECB Level 4 Specialist Coach, specialising in fielding and spin bowling.

“It’s been a lot of work, but I’m really pleased it’s done,” says a delighted Jennifer, who is the Senior Regional Talent Manager at the Stars. “It’s quite similar to the amount of work that I had to do for my masters… it’s a really, really big commitment.”

“It’s a two-year course and the first year is based around your generic coaching stuff, where you do modules on psychology, biomechanics, strength and conditioning and all those classroom-based modules,” explains Jennifer, “And then as you move into the second year, you specialise in the practical skills at the Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, which for me was spin bowling and fielding.”

The second year of the course requires the candidate to develop and defend a portfolio, which is “an extended piece of work where you have to evidence how you have implemented your learnings into your coaching practice and helped a player improve.”

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated space, Jennifer had to go the extra mile to achieve her aims. “Realistically, there are lots of barriers [for women cricketers and coaches]. One of the biggest things was, growing up while playing women’s cricket, I was never a professional cricketer, even though I was playing county cricket. I didn’t get all of the support that any or all county cricketers would have from their counties.”

She continues: “I’ve got to where I am and nothing has stopped me from doing that. But I do think I’ve had to work harder in some spaces… I’ve always had to work two jobs at the same time because there wasn’t really an option for me before to work full time in cricket.”

Something that worked in her favour while completing her Specialist Coach course was the stability and support she received from working at the Stars. “I was really lucky in the fact that I was working full time in cricket so I was able to use my time at work to support me with my portfolio,” adds Jennifer.

Referred to as ‘JJ’ by the squad, Jennifer plays a wide-ranging role for the Stars, which sees her leading the Academy and Emerging Player Programme (EPP), scouting and identifying talented cricketers across the region, communicating with “all the stakeholders that are involved with the players that I work with”, as well as supporting the spin bowlers in the first team.

“The thing that I absolutely love about my job is supporting the younger players coming out through the pathway,” shares JJ, “Seeing them take that first step into professional cricket is amazing.”

Being as interested in the psychological element of cricket as she is in the physical element of it, Jennifer brings that to her philosophy of coaching as well.  “Do everything you can to not only be a great cricketer but be a great person too” is one of her core messages to her players. Beyond that, she wants them to give proper focus to “the little things that count” and centre their energy on “controlling the controllables”.

The biggest piece of advice she has for young and upcoming women coaches is to “just get involved.” She adds, “If you love cricket, just get involved wherever you can. Offer to help out and do what you can to stay connected to the game. Your local club will be doing some kind of kids coaching and there’ll be a lot of clubs that have women’s and girls’ sections too.”