didi cricket seeks new venues after successful taster sessions

Children talk to a man wearing a didi cricket tee-shirt

didi cricket has got off to a great start with four sessions at Stoke Orchard Community Centre near Cheltenham producing plenty of fun, laughter and no little skill!

Coach Keith Smith is the first didi rugby coach in the country to pilot the new classes and he has been delighted with what he has seen.

With similar principles being applied from his didi rugby classes across the Cheltenham area, sports lover Keith has seen children extend their sporting prowess with fun and games involving a bat and ball this time.

“We were absolutely full for the first week with 30 kids turning up for a taster session,” said Keith.

“With so many of them coming back in the following weeks too, I think they clearly enjoyed themselves and the kids were better than I expected.

didi cricket fun

“It was great to see so many of them getting a quick grasp of hitting a ball after I had taught them how to hold a bat and the parent engagement was lovely to see as well.

“I had some really positive comments afterwards and am looking forward to carrying on the classes now.”

Regular classes will get underway from Sunday 1 March at Stoke Orchard Community Centre and Keith is looking for more settings to expand his list of venues and extra coaches to help oversee the sessions.

If any cricket club in the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Forest of Dean areas are interested in hosting didi cricket sessions and maybe open up a pathway to provide possible future members of their club, please get in touch via our Facebook page or emailing keith.smith@didirugby.com.

Read more: didi cricket sessions in school get wonderful reaction

Book: Your child in for a didi cricket class

Watch: See how much fun didi cricket can bring…


Wheelchair rugby star Coach Umit coaches didi rugby

didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz is in his wheelchair holding a didi rugby ball

didi rugby Reading’s latest coaching acquisition is causing a storm.

Umit Akyildiz is an inspirational member of the Berkshire Banshees Wheelchair rugby team.

He is also inspiring young children to have fun and learn new skills leading didi rugby classes too.

Co-owner of didi rugby Reading is Craig Hunter and he is also the chairman of the Banshees.

“I got to know Umit through my involvement with the Banshees,” said Craig.

“He was keen to get involved in didi rugby so I took him to didi rugby classes as a support coach.

“He has been working closely with me and he has brought so much to the classes.

“Umit is a very positive, happy person and he is great with the kids. They absolutely love him.”

Wheelchair rugby

And, as far as Umit is concerned, the feeling is mutual.

“Because of my rugby background I really enjoy being part of didi rugby because it gives me a sense of achievement helping others reach their goals,” he said.

“didi rugby is great for the children’s development because it helps them learn better ways to cope with the highs and lows of life. It also helps children develop patience and rugby skills too.

“Being the first coach didi rugby Reading coach to do so from a wheelchair gives me a sense of accomplishment and knowing that I have achieved something that is so important to my life.”

didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz is in his wheelchair holding a didi rugby ball
didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz

Wheelchair rugby is a fusion of ice hockey, handball and rugby which not only involves speed and chair contact but also requires tactical intelligence.

Eight rolling substitutes make up squads of 12, with four players on the court at any one time.

The sport is for male and female disabled athletes with the emphasis on fun, excitement and inclusion, particularly for players with higher levels of impairment.

Club sessions are open to anyone interested in learning more about the game, including volunteers. For further information, please contact berkswr@gmail.com or craigchairman@gmail.com

Acti-Fit have become didi rugby’s official education partner

Acti-Fit director Ellis Bailey speaks at the didi rugby Conference

Acti-Fit have become didi rugby’s official education partner.

As a result, they will help to provide new coaches for didi rugby’s ever-growing class numbers and offer new and existing coaches the opportunity to gain a professional, chartered qualification on the job.

Based in the Midlands and driven by a host of passionate people, Acti-Fit are on a mission to push the boundaries of coaching by harnessing the power of sport and education.

With a team of experts, they provide 360 coaching consultancy, to support coaches with their educational development.

Acti-Fit director Ellis Bailey speaks at the didi rugby Conference
Acti-Fit director Ellis Bailey speaks at the didi rugby Conference

They embrace an ethos of getting people active and having fun through physical activity and it is an ethos which fits perfectly with the mantra that drives didi rugby and its classes for children up and down the country.

Through their knowledge and support networks, Acti-Fit will help provide didi with the right coaches at the right time for classes across the UK, in areas which are looking to expand.

This will provide not only more dedicated staff to support didi rugby’s ever-growing numbers of young members but will also allow those coaches to gain a professional qualification while doing so.

The Acti-Fit team promise to make those coaches become the best coach they can be and they will also give them the opportunity to become chartered in their respective field.

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen says she is delighted to confirm the partnership with Acti-Fit.

Personal development

“We have been chatting to them for a long time about having the same ethos, mentality and goals of getting kids active across the country,” she said. “It has been great to hear their ideas about making people better coaches and managers and putting them onto formal qualifications.

“We are always keen to make our didi coaches the best they can be with ongoing personal development.

“There will be a clear pathway to develop the children, their classes and the coaches who lead them.

“The partnership will also provide a clear pathway for didi coaches and franchise holders to develop and learn while they are on the job.”

didi rugby already teaches a framework which fits in with rugby’s governing body’s guidelines and with Vicky being one of only a handful of RFU Level 4 female coaches in the UK, youngsters who attend didi classes are always in safe hands.

Acti-Fit Partnership

“We are confident that the formal qualifications that Acti-Fit are adding to our coaching will stand us apart from other providers and ensure that customers get the very best from a session when they attend didi rugby with their children.

“It will be a very healthy partnership and it is exciting for me to be able to give our franchisees some great training which will, in turn, support them to support their loyal customers.

Ellis Bailey is a director at Acti-Fit and he says that he quickly realised there was lots of synergy between the two companies soon after meeting Vicky.

“When we set up Acti-Fit, we wanted to do something to make a difference,” said Ellis.

“Like didi rugby, we have a lot of things we feel passionately about like getting kids active and healthy and trying to better the quality of coaching in the UK through education.

Coaching pathway

“We were happy to start a didi franchise as part of the partnership too and we also wanted to offer franchise owners the opportunity to grow with an educational coaching pathway.

“Whenever we discuss going into a partnership with anyone, we want to invest in people and what I saw from didi rugby was a group of people with a genuine passion for what they believe in.

“It’s not a made-up story. It’s genuinely what they want to do. Vicky is a genuine person with a huge passion for sport and wanting to work for the community.

“Our partnership really is a match made in heaven.”

  • Watch: didi cricket delights school children in Gloucestershire…



didi cricket school session fun at Highnam Primary Academy

didi cricket coach Keith Smith has fun with a class of children in a sports hall

The spread of didi cricket is continuing at pace with children at a primary school in Gloucestershire the latest to enjoy a fun-filled session.

Highnam C of E Primary Academy provided a very hospitable welcome and some of their pupils showed some fantastic hand/eye co-ordination while enjoying games with coach, Keith Smith.

“didi cricket has been evolving for a number of months now and, as a didi rugby coach in the area, I have been excited to be able to offer this new sport too,” said Keith.

“It’s great to get into Highnam School and tie that in with the launch of some pilot classes in Stoke Orchard in late January/early February.

“It is a different sport but the same ethos as didi rugby. The games are different but we are looking at getting kids active and having fun with sport.

“So far, it has been going down an absolute storm.

Highnam Primary Academy

Steve Dean is the headteacher at Highnam C of E Primary Academy and he said he was happy to welcome didi cricket into the school.

“I am a keen advocate of cricket myself and play for the local Highnam team,” said Mr Dean. “So I want to see cricket being developed in schools locally.

“Maybe the children will end up playing locally in years to come, or for the county, or even for England.”

  • WATCH: See didi cricket in action at Stoke Orchard Community Centre:

  • WATCH: What is didi rugby?

A dozen didi rugby Reading children join Reading RFC minis

A dozen didi rugby stars in a group at Reading RFC

Reading RFC minis have received a huge boost in playing numbers with a dozen children joining the club having graduated from didi rugby classes in the area.

A huge part of didi rugby’s ethos is to make formal links with local clubs to provide a seamless pathway for children to continue playing the game after they become too old for didi rugby classes.

A dozen didi rugby stars in a group at Reading RFC
A dozen didi rugby stars in a group at Reading RFC having moved up from didi classes at the age of 6.

Not only does it provide our didi stars a chance to move straight into tag rugby, it also gives local clubs a stream of youngsters coming into their minis set-up with the skills and confidence already there to hit the ground running.

didi rugby Reading have links with many clubs in Berkshire and their latest group to move up to Under-7s rugby at Reading RFC has delighted everyone involved.

Reading RFC

didi rugby Reading’s Craig Hunter said he was ‘delighted’ to see so many graduates move up to Reading RFC after a couple of children made the move their previous year.

“It’s great to see them want to carry on their rugby experience and the 12 of them have already gelled nicely up at Reading,” said Craig.

“Their parents are pleased and we have had really good feedback from Reading too so it’s lovely to see the numbers we are providing them increasing.”

didi rugby Reading franchise owners Donna Clark and Craig Hunter coach at Aldermaston RFC
didi rugby Reading’s Craig Hunter (right)

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said this was another example of didi rugby classes working well with their local communities.

“It is important for all of us at didi rugby to support the local community as much as we can and the partnerships we create with local clubs are very important to what we are trying to do,” she said.

“Here are 12 children who have come through the didi rugby set-up and are now too old for our ‘seniors’ classes. So it’s heart-warming to see them move up to a partner club like Reading and know they are in safe hands to continue learning, having fun, growing in confidence and building up that camaraderie that rugby provides.

Developing skills

“Craig, Donna, Clare and the rest of the team at our didi rugby Reading classes have done a great job of capturing these children’s imagination and developing their skills and confidence over the past couple of years.

“We will all be watching their kids’ progress with Reading RFC and wish them all the best of luck. We are always very proud of our didi rugby graduates.”

  • Watch didi rugby Reading coaches Donna and Clare explain why they have so much fun during their classes…

didi rugby Sutton Coldfield to launch at Sutton Coldfield RFC

didi rugby Sutton Coldfield's logo

didi rugby Sutton Coldfield will be throwing a launch party to open its doors to the public on Saturday 29 February.

A friendly welcome is guaranteed at Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club and lots of fun and games will be taking place on the day.

Children from the age of 18 months to 6 years of age are welcome and parents are invited to book a place for their child by visiting the didi rugby website.

Regular classes will then begin at the same venue with three separate age groups: 18 months to 3 years, 3 years to 4 years and, finally, 4 years to 6 years.

Head coach of didi rugby Sutton Coldfield, Dave Lote has a huge passion for the sport having worked for the RFU and coached the sport for many years.

He also works for a company called Acti-fit who have just opened an exciting partnership with didi rugby to provide coaches and extended professional coaching qualifications to the men and women who deliver amazing classes up and down the country every week.

There’s more on that, later.

Exciting opportunity

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to get involved with didi rugby,” said Dave.

“We are launching our classes in Sutton Coldfield very soon and we want children to have fun and gain confidence while we deliver our sessions.

“These are exciting times for us.”

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen has known Dave for a long time and worked with him before.

“I am so pleased that didi rugby Sutton Coldfield is launching on February 29,” said Vicky.

“Dave was one of my fellow coaches when we coached at Lichfield together and I have worked alongside him in various roles as a rugby coach educator too.

didi rugby Sutton Coldfield

“I know he is the perfect person to support didi rugby’s progress and development in Sutton Coldfield.

“He is so passionate about rugby and getting children active and he has drive, enthusiasm and a really positive attitude. I cannot see a better person to take the Sutton Coldfield area by storm and do some really good work in the local community.

“And it’s great that the partnership with Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club offers a pipeline through to kids rugby when children become too old for didi rugby classes.”

Four didi rugby coaches go head-to-head in big club clash

Katie Heirene, Ros Wiggins and Mollie Latham put their thumbs up and smile

Four didi rugby head coaches and franchise owners will be going head-to-head on the pitch when Crewe & Nantwich Ladies face Kenilworth Women in the Intermediate Plate on Saturday 9 February.

The owner of didi rugby’s South Warwickshire classes, Kiri Bennett will be making the trip north with her Kenilworth team to take on a Crewe & Nantwich side that contains both Ros Wiggins and Mollie Latham who are coaches in the Stone and Stafford and Lichfield and Cannock areas.

Katie Heirene, Ros Wiggins and Mollie Latham put their thumbs up and smile
Crewe and Nantwich Ladies trio Katie Heirene, Ros Wiggins and Mollie Latham prepare to face fellow didi rugby coach Kiri Bennett in a cup match

The home side will also feature Katie Heirene, who runs both the didi rugby Crewe and Nantwich area as well as classes in Chester.

And with the home side defending the title they won last year, there will be plenty on the line.

Kiri and her Kenilworth team-mates ply their trade in Women’s Championship Midlands 2 and are currently in fourth place, just one point off second.

Seven wins

Crewe & Nantwich play in Women’s Championship North 2 and are also enjoying a superb season with seven wins in 10 games taking them up to second in the table.

Ros says it is a game they have all been looking forward to for a long time.

“Having come second  in the 2018 Intermediate Plate and then going on to win it last year, we are really excited to go through the stages this year and see if we can take the title again,” she said.

“And what has made it even more exciting is the prospect of playing against our didi rugby team-mate, Kiri in this round.”

Kiri added: “I am really excited for the cup match against Crewe and Nantwich. It will be great to play against some fellow didi owners,” she said.

“We are at a similar place in our leagues so it will be really interesting, and I’m sure, very competitive!”

  • Video: England captain and didi rugby ambassador Sarah Hunter speaks at didi rugby’s annual conference…

England captain Sarah Hunter speaks at didi rugby annual conference

Sarah Hunter (left) stands with Vicky Macqueen and Italy international Sara Tounesi

England captain and didi rugby ambassador Sarah Hunter spoke passionately about her career and the personal drive she has needed throughout it when she addressed franchise owners at didi rugby’s annual conference in Hinckley.

The 34-year-old, who has an incredible 119 caps ahead of this year’s upcoming Women’s Six Nations has been a didi rugby ambassador since the early days of the business.

She played the early days of her career with didi rugby CEO and founder Vicky Macqueen when Vicky was coming to the end of her time as an international.

The Loughborough Lightning No.8 said she was happy to break away from her preparations for the Six Nations to address franchise owners from across the UK and give them some ideas of what it takes to get to the top – and try to stay there.

“We spoke about my experience in rugby and how I have managed to achieve a few things but we also spoke about the setbacks I have been through and how sport and business often correlate on that front,” said Sarah.


“It is often a rollercoaster ride overcoming setbacks and then setting goals to remind yourself what you want to achieve and how you are going to get it back on track.

“I feel passionately about didi rugby. It was an easy decision to get involved with it after I had heard Vicky’s ideas.

“When I saw her vision, that sold it for me. Not just for the fundamentals around getting young children to be fit and active – but also to help them interact with other kids. That bigger picture is very important for young children.

“I love rugby and have played since I was nine but I didn’t have that opportunity to play it at a young age. For young children to learn all these skills at didi rugby and catch the rugby bug is important.

World Cup winner

World Cup winner Sarah was awarded an MBE in 2016 for her services to the game and also became World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in the same year.

More recently, she led England to a Six Nations Grand Slam last season, her latest medal in a glittering career.

“It was amazing that Sarah found the time to come and speak to our didi franchise holders at such a busy time for her,” said Vicky.

“She has always been a fantastic advocate of what we are trying to do and we are very grateful for her continued support not only to our classes but also our franchise holders and coaches who are implementing the vision we have to get children active while having fun and growing in confidence.”

  • Howzat? didi cricket classes are launching this month

NEWS: Howzat? didi cricket classes are being launched in January

Two excited children help a didi cricket coach put up cricket stumps in a hall

didi cricket classes are being launched in January with a whole new set of skills available for your child to learn in a fun and relaxed environment.

Following the success of didi rugby over the past 18 months, cricket classes will be lovingly taught against a backdrop of similar goals and values.

The first didi cricket classes are being launched at Stoke Orchard Community Centre, Gloucestershire on 26 January and will be run by an already popular figure in the area, coach Keith Smith.

Fun, games and activities will have a cricket theme for children aged from 18 months to 6 years and involve bats, balls and stumps that are especially made for playing with kids.

Get your kids active, improve their hand/eye coordination, social skills and self confidence in a friendly environment with fully qualified coaches. Held in a great indoor location with a cafe and shop.

If you would like to find out more information or book your child in for a FREE taster session at the Stoke Orchard launch, contact head coach keith.smith@didirugby.com.

Contact info@didirugby.com for national information on didi cricket.

Watch out for more didi cricket venues popping up during 2020 and with limited space available at new sessions, if you would like to secure your child’s place at a class in your area, please email us to register your interest.

‘Running around after didi kids is hilarious and fulfilling’ – didi rugby Reading coach

Two didi female coaches speak to the camera at Reading RFC

didi rugby Reading coaching duo Donna Clark and Clare Swadling explain why their classes are both ‘hilarious’ and ‘very fulfilling’.

Along, with Craig Hunter, the duo have helped build an incredible success story in the Berkshire and Reading area not only for their franchise but for the hundreds of local children at schools and classes in the area.

Those kids are now benefitting from the values that didi rugby promotes and enjoying being active, having fun and gaining in confidence.

Speaking at one of their partner clubs, Reading RFC, ahead of a series of didi rugby sessions, Clare said: “We just want to make sure that the children have a chance to play rugby.

“Running around after small people is hilarious and very fulfilling. They are brilliant to be around and they just love you during the classes. It’s like having a group of puppy dogs! For those 40 minutes, they just idolise you.

50 Classes operating


“I love it here and the atmosphere is so different from where I have come from. I think we have 50 classes operating now and we have only been going for 18 months.”

Donna added: “The spread of didi rugby down here has been huge. We have exploded into schools as well and we are offering session every day of the week.

“Those who are too old for didi rugby are moving onto tag rugby and we love that continuity for children to keep them playing the sport.

“We are also involved with special needs schools and have links with the Berkshire Banshees wheelchair team. We try and support all sorts of areas. There’s loads going on.

Reading rugby


“We have an excellent relationship here with Reading RFC but it’s one big family and one big network to attract children and their parents into the sport.

“From speaking to the parents, the children love it. They wake up and say: ‘Is it didi rugby today?’.

“There is a real rapport, they enjoy it and that is what makes them want to come back week after week.”

VIDEO: didi rugby Reading co-owners Donna and Craig explain why the didi rugby franchise model has worked for them…