Anita Broad – Interview



Anita Broad is the Vice-Chairman and Education & Research Officer at Stoolball, England. She is a third generation Stoolball player and after attending a coaching course back in 2013, Anita became a qualified coach. Now she leads coaching programmes in local primary schools and hopes to increase the number of people playing the sport over the summer.

We wanted to learn all about Stoolball and what the situation is like for female coaches in this very English of sports, so we caught up with Anita to ask her just that…



Stoolball has its origins in Medieval times and in its early form the game was played by defending a three-legged type stool. Stoolball is thought by some sports historians to be the ancestor of cricket, rounders and baseball. Some time in the late 18th or early 19th century the game came to be played in the modern way as it is still played today. In Victorian times stoolball saw its first surge in popularity when it was played in Sussex villages by women across all social classes. Stoolball is a traditional striking and fielding sport similar to cricket in principle, but played with different bats, balls and wickets. The main difference is that the ball is bowled underarm (without bouncing) from a distance of 10 metres at a shoulder-height wicket defended by the batsperson. The bat is paddle-shaped, made of willow, and the ball is similar to a rounders ball.? Stoolball is mostly played by women but there are also many mixed male/female teams. Stoolball is mainly played in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire but the game is re-gaining popularity in other areas of the country.


I am a third generation stoolball player – my daughter is fourth generation! My Mother and Grandmother both played in my stoolball team. I played from around the age of 10 years in the village where I was born. I have always loved sport and have also played hockey, volleyball and netball. My Winter sport was netball and my Summer sport was always stoolball. I have probably always coached stoolball in one way or another, but I officially became a stoolball coach a couple of years ago after attending a Stoolball England coaching course.

In my role as Education & Research Officer for Stoolball England (NGB) I coach stoolball in primary schools and also at sports festivals and other events. As part of a wider education initiative, in 2013 I instigated and project managed a Heritage Lottery Fund programme which involved using the heritage and history of stoolball as part of a cross-curricular primary schools project. The primary schools involved learned to play stoolball? in the context of the local culture where it developed hundreds of years ago. I am also the lead coach for the stoolball team in which I play; we have a minis and junior section and senior ladies team. My coaching commitment is pretty full-on and I also have to find time to play stoolball.

Stoolball England is committed to training coaches and we regularly run courses to enable as many people to develop their skills as possible. Stoolball England is particularly interested in encouraging female players to train as coaches to utilise their skills and pass on their extensive playing experience in their local schools.


The coaching initiative is relatively new for Stoolball England and mainly we train women coaches, however more men are now coming forward and also from other parts of the country. Stoolball England also run umpiring and scorers courses which attract men and women equally. It is true to say most of the umpires are male.

My favourite thing about being a coach is seeing the enjoyment and the love of playing stoolball. I love how young children soak up new things without inhibition or fear of failure; they just have a go! I enjoy seeing a whole class of primary kids all itching to bat and bowl; all eager to play. I love the team-building and the look of pride when someone performs well or just manages to do something they couldn’t do before.

What are your future ambitions as a coach?

My future ambitions as a coach is to inspire new stoolball players which will in turn create new teams. I would love to see stoolball played all over the country again as it was back in the 1930s.

I think the future is looking very bright for stoolball. Stoolball England, as a National Governing Body run by volunteers and without the funding received by other sports, is doing an amazing job. Raising the profile of the sport at conferences, through social media and representation at sports festivals is rewarding and valuable. I think hoping for stoolball to be included as an Olympic sport is a tad ambitious, but never say never!