Cricket NSW, in conjunction with Eurobodalla Shire Council and its three resident clubs, have released a strategy to grow cricket participation within the Shire over the next three years and beyond.
A lack of a consistent volunteer base seems to be the reason cricket has fallen out of favour in parts of the shire in recent years, but support from the council, along with the introduction of a women’s team last year, means the plan is already on track.
Southern Eurobodalla Cricket secretary [and treasurer] Matt Klose, who lives in Narooma, says that having junior, senior and women’s teams which support each other is important to the success of cricket in the area but that a lack of volunteers means that the few who are there are overcommitted.
“I play seniors, coach juniors and I’m the secretary and treasurer,” Matt says “and our president, Dean Friskin, does the same.”
Workshops held in March identified some geographical challenges, with committed players sometimes driving hours north or south from their home community to play cricket.
One of the stated aims to come out of the workshops is that each cricket club is the hub of their community and that each club could be aligned to Shire precincts.
“I came to the area about eight years ago,” explains Matt “and we had a good Eurobodalla comp going. But one Batmans Bay side folded and the other side went to Shoalhaven, which left Dalmeny, Bodalla and Tuross Head and we decided to merge and go in the Far South coast comp, which only left two sides in the Eurobodalla.”
Matt says that the strategy sessions with Council and Cricket NSW have been helpful and that Eurobodalla Shire Council Recreation Development Coordinator Mathew Neason has been “fully behind us.”
“Council have been so accommodating and the funding and support they’ve provided has meant we’ve got off the ground. But sporting grants are competitive and sponsorship is rare. The biggest hurdle is generating volunteers who can apply for grants and do the admin behind the scenes that means clubs can be successful.”
Cricket NSW Area Manager Southern NSW & ACT, Martin Gleeson, also recognised the contribution of Council.
“Eurobodalla Shire Council has been crucial in bringing the final Strategy together,” Gleeson says “one of the challenges for cricket in Eurobodalla is that there is no local association and the three resident clubs play in different competitions or grades.”
Cricket NSW Cricket Manager for the South Coast, Greg Richards-Riches, sees a great opportunity for cricket to strengthen through the strategy.
“As part of the strategy, we will work with local schools to run all School Cups in the region (during) Term 3 or Term 4 and connect them with the clubs so that they can serve as a recruitment tool as well as a participation opportunity in their own right.”
Richards-Riches explained that the plan will entail establishing a Woolworths Cricket Blast centre in Moruya and at Southern Eurobodalla Cricket Club, building a sustainable junior program for the Tuross Head club and re-establish an Under 16 team in the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association.
“Female cricket is also on the radar with growth targeted for the Batemans Bay social competition and establishing extra female participation opportunities in secondary schools and at Southern Eurobodalla and Tuross Head,” he said.
“Access to more training programs and resources for club volunteers will also be offered over the next three years, as well as Council identifying key facility upgrades and completing master plans at Hanging Rock, Bill Smyth and Mackay Park reserves.”
So far this season, Southern Eurobodalla Cricket Club have a junior team, one confirmed women’s side, a possible second women’s side and two seniors teams.
“I’m excited about what’s happening with women’s cricket on the south coast,” Matt says “last year, our women’s team had virtually no experience and they only just lost the grand final!”
Still, Matt is concerned about the long-term viability of his club.
“We need a half dozen people who really want to play to put in the work to make it happen. Right now we only have a few, so if something happens to me or Dean and we need to pull out, where does that leave the club?”
Click HERE to view and download the Eurobodalla Cricket Strategy.