A young cricketer with hopes of turning pro has found the backing to play in South Africa.
Alex McGrath was awarded £500 by the Durham County Cricket Club Youth Trust Fund, managed by County Durham Community Foundation.
The 20-year-old Spennymoor sport is studying at Durham University and will travel to Cape Town in March with his team to play against some of the brightest talent about.
Alex, who DJs in his spare time to fund the rest of the trip, said: “I was pretty happy to be honest because it’s been a massive help towards the cost. I don’t think I would have gone otherwise.
“I’m hoping to get as far as I can with cricket. The experience of going somewhere like that and playing at the highest level possible is a massive opportunity – not just in terms of sport but in terms of life opportunity.”
And the trip is extra special for Alex after he overcame hip surgery to keep playing.
In 2016 he had to miss the season when a specialist diagnosed him with hip impingement and he had to undergo two operations.
But Alex fought back to his best and is now playing better than ever.
He said: “I came back in slowly and it’s worked really well. It was definitely a learning curve. I had to be patient and do a lot of physiotherapy but gradually the fear of being injured again has faded.”
Alex started playing cricket at the tender age of six after encouragement from dad Ian, and mum Elaine: cutting his teeth with Tudhoe Cricket Club juniors. He was then picked to represent Durham County Cricket Club U12s and remained there until he won a place at Durham University to study Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity.
Alex, who grew up in Spennymoor, said: “My mam and dad always encouraged me. My dad still plays cricket and they gave me lifts everywhere. They still wash my kit!”
In his first year at university, Alex was selected to represent Durham MCCU under head coach Paul Grayson. He made his first class debut against Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, finishing the first innings with bowling figures of four for 103.
He was then chosen to represent the MCC Combined Universities under coach Clive Radley, playing in the second eleven County Championship through until the end of the 2017 season.
The tour will allow Alex and his team mates to play against other British and South African Universities as well as professional teams.