The Western Australian Cricket Association is helping ensure the doors of the nation’s highest participation sport are open to all, with Dream Cricket this week taking its first steps across the Nullarbor.
Dream Cricket, established by The Bradman Foundation and Rotary Club, is an initiative designed for children with a disability and has begun spreading out of New South Wales to the rest of Australia and internationally.
The program this week launched in WA, with events in Peel and at Beldon Education Centre engaging about 150 children of all abilities through cricket activities and WACA Game Development staff familiarising themselves with the program to eventually take over the roll-out and state-wide activities.
The pilot year for WA will involve about 10 primary schools, with a view to expand into all metropolitan regions and culminating in participating schools being invited to an open day at the WACA Ground.
Bradman Foundation’s Cricket Ambassador Rick McCarthy said the impact the volunteer-run program had on participants made it extremely rewarding.
"We don’t teach them technique, we make sure they have fun by, basically, being able to hit a ball through a couple of markers, bowl a ball at some wickets,” McCarthy said.
"It’s all done by volunteer staff, including myself, and I get more out of it than what I put into it. I’m lucky to be able to travel the country and meet children from every state and, now, other parts of the world.
"It doesn’t matter where you go, children are all the same; they get a huge thrill out of … things (able-bodied people) take for granted and the comments from the parents and teachers that come to me, they make it all worthwhile.”
WACA Community Programs Officer Brad Denham said Dream Cricket highlighted why cricket had cemented itself as Australia’s highest participation sport, taking programs to people of all ages and abilities.
"It’s a fantastic way of getting the kids involved in cricket and, while the Dream Cricket program operates in schools, hopefully it shows kids they can get involved in cricket regardless of their ability level,” Denham said.
"The experience of playing cricket and the things we love about cricket is hanging out with friends, having fun and hopefully hitting a few big sixes as well.”