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Cricket rescue bid

Tuesday, 22nd November, 2011

ROLE MODEL: Former South junior Tom Derham is a prime example of what can be achieved through sport. ROLE MODEL: Former South junior Tom Derham is a prime example of what can be achieved through sport.

By John Casey

Radical changes are being formulated to try and rescue the future of junior cricket in Broken Hill.

With two of the city’s biggest residential areas - North and South BH - unable to field Under-16 sides this season, cricket officials believe they must act quickly to salvage the future of cricket.

“The situation is desperate and we do not want to see cricket’s lifeline - the juniors - severed indefinitely,” Barrier District Cricket League President Peter Johnston said.

“Other interests, lack of parental participation and support, junior players with part-time work commitments outside of school hours ... there are a host of reasons that have contributed to the current situation.

“The bleak outlook is not just here in Broken Hill - other regional areas are also suffering a similar experience with junior sport and we want to be pro-active in finding a solution,” Mr Johnston continued.

The bleak outlook in South BH is exacerbated by the lack of an Under-14 side as well as the absence of a team from Alma Primary School in the hard-ball competition.

An emergency meeting of the BH Junior Cricket Association will be held on Thursday and all options to secure the future of the sport will be considered.

“We want to see as many people as possible attend the meeting and hear their thoughts, concerns and solutions,” Mr Johnston said.

““There have been suggestions to merge the Under-14 and Under-16 competitions but our advice is that should be a last resort as it may discourage younger players who are forced to compete against more physically mature opponents.

“But Thursday’s meeting is about canvassing all options, so we encourage everyone with an interest in junior sport to come along to the Norm Fox Sports Complex at 7.30pm and contribute,” Mr Johnston added.

Re-scheduling matches from the weekend to a Monday night looms as a likely scenario after the BHJCA experimented with the idea last season and attracted some positive feedback.

“Some parents saw the week-day scheduling as a good move because it freed up the weekends,” Mr Johnston explained.

“There is no easy solution to this problem but if we can look at as many different ideas as possible we hopefully will come up with a workable scenario for the future.

“Our concern is to cater for those youngsters who do want to continue playing the game and also try and coax a few more kids into playing cricket,” Mr Johnston said.

“It would be terribly unfortunate if there were kids who were really keen to pursue cricket but didn’t get the opportunity to do so because of lack of numbers.

“That is why the Barrier District Cricket League - as the sport’s peak body in the city - is conducting this special meeting.”

Former South junior star Tom Derham, who is excelling at both cricket and football in Adelaide, is a perfect role model for what can be achieved if juniors are given opportunities in sport.

“You can’t force kids to play sport, but if we can present enough positive examples of what can be achieved such as how Tom Derham is progressing, that can only help encourage participation,” Mr Johnston said.

“Sport can open a lot of different doors in a person’s life and we need to keep reinforcing that to this generation who now have so many options available to them.

“In many different ways a community with a strong base in sport is a healthy community and we hope that enough people recognise that and show their support on Thursday night.”

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