SOPHIE Luff saw a successful year continue last week as she was named the Chance to Shine Schools Coach of the Year at Lord’s.

Having captained Somerset to the ECB Women’s T20 Championship Division 2 title in 2019 as well as helping Western Storm to glory in the final year of the Kia Super League, Luff completed her ‘hat-trick’ when the nationwide cricket charity recognised her exceptional work as a community coach with the Somerset Cricket Board (SCB).

The awards were hosted by the BBC’s Eleanor Oldroyd, while former England stars Matt Prior and Ryan Sidebottom were on hand to present trophies.

“It was a great night,” Luff said.

“There were so many different stories and it was inspiring to be in a room full of people with such passion for the game.

“To be recognised for something I love doing is really special.

“I have done this for three-and-a-half years now and every day is different.”

Luff’s role - which she combines with her playing duties and a position as women and girls’ performance head coach at the SCB - sees her deliver fun cricket-based sessions to Key Stage 1 (year 1 and 2) children at primary schools across the county.

“I think you have to get them at that age,” she said.

“You can help shape their perception of what cricket is - they may not have played it before or know anything about it, so we can try and show them the game those of us within the sport know and love.

“At the same time, it is about more than cricket.

“The skills we are teaching, such as communication and teamwork, are really important at that age, when taking it in turns and sharing can be difficult.”

The 25-year-old’s infectious enthusiasm for the game helps her build a rapport with the pupils, while her position as a leading female cricketer in the county can also alter perceptions.

“I am very lucky to be a female role model,” she said.

“It helps to show young girls that cricket is for everyone and, for boys, it may break down barriers.

“There may not be any perceptions at that age but it is great for them to become used to seeing a female coach in front of them from an early age.”

Luff will continue her coaching roles but admitted they “may have to take a back seat” next summer depending on her playing commitments.

The Somerset skipper will be leading her county in Division 1 of the T20 Championship following this summer’s promotion while she is also hoping to feature in The Hundred, squads for which have not been finalised on the women’s side.

Forty new professional contracts will also be introduced in 2020 as part of the ECB’s revamp of the domestic women’s game, with five set to be allocated to each regional centre of excellence.

“I want to be a professional cricketer, so I will keep working hard at my game over the winter and we’ll see what comes up,” Luff said.