World Cup cricketer Liberty Heap thanks BLC for helping her prepare for England tournament debut

History-making cricketer Liberty Heap has thanked Burnley Leisure and Culture for a sporting grant that has helped her prepare for the inaugural ICC Under-19s Women’s T20 World Cup taking place in South Africa.

The Burnley-born all-rounder is part of the 15-strong squad competing in the historical tournament, with 16 teams battling it out in 41 matches until January 29.

And Liberty is having a great tournament so far.

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Liberty Heap

She top scored with 64, including 12 fours, while opening the batting as England swept aside Rwanda by 135 runs in their third and final group game, following up the 25 she made when England cruised past Zimbabwe by 176 runs in their first match.

Liberty, who has risen to prominence playing at academy level for North West Thunder and the government-led ECB School Games programme, made history when she became the first female to captain the cricket team at the renowned Stonyhurst College near Clitheroe.

Speaking of the grant from BLC, the former Lowerhouse junior, said: “The sporting grant from BLC has massively helped me in so many ways.

“Due to getting selected for England Under-19s and training three days a week with the Northwest Thunder, it has been difficult to work in other employment whilst pursuing my dream of becoming a professional athlete. This meant I had very little income, which made it difficult for me to get through my day-to-day life financially.

“Without the support of Burnley Leisure and Culture my training hours would have been significantly reduced. Thank you to everyone at BLC for supporting me in continuing to improve and grow as a player and as a person.”

The grant has helped to fund Liberty’s travelling costs to training as well as some kit purchases.

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She came to the attention her local leisure trust, itself a not-for-profit organisation, after winning Young Achiever of the Year at last year’s BLC-organised Active Burnley Awards, and then going on to lift the countywide accolade at the Active Lancashire Awards.

Paul Foster, BLC’s deputy chief executive, said: “We’re extremely proud of what Liberty is achieving in her chosen sport. She is a credit to herself, and to the borough of Burnley. We’re all watching her progress closely and hoping we will see her and her team triumph.”

Liberty discovered her love of cricket aged eight after playing it in a PE lesson at primary school. She then asked her parents if she could start playing and joined junior sessions at Lowerhouse CC, where her dad Ben Heap captains the first Xl, and who coached her early progress in the game.

She was then chosen for Lancashire Under 11s, aged 9, and has played there ever since; managing the odd weekend game at Lowerhouse if she has no Lancashire or Thunder fixtures.

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Her priority now is helping England lift the World Cup at the Rainbow National tournament, but long term she hopes to secure a full-time professional contract with NW Thunder, and make the squad to play in this summer’s The Hundred competition.