Friday, June 14, 2024

WA Cricket Foundation Aboriginal pathway building a better tomorrow

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Photo Credit: Western Australian Cricket Association

Creating equal opportunities for anyone who wants to pick up a bat and ball, the WA Cricket Foundation encourages and celebrates emerging Aboriginal cricket players.

Offering a plethora of opportunities to Aboriginal youth interested in cricket, the Foundation fosters a safe environment for players to grow their skills and connection to their culture.

National Indigenous Cricket Championships WA Men’s Team Manager Marsh Jackson has been involved in the Foundation’s Aboriginal pathway for nearly two decades and has seen the landscape change immensely when it comes to opportunities for Aboriginal players.

“I’ve been involved with Aboriginal cricket since 2006 when there were no academies or anything like that,” Jackson says.

“Now we’ve got the academies and the scholarships available for both males and females which help them with gear and training, we’ve got specialised coaches involved and access to the WACA Ground for training and games.

“Having those opportunities is fantastic and opens up the doors for a lot of girls and boys who would not usually have the chance to have that experience.”

On a personal level, Jackson has been playing cricket since he was 10 years old and can see how much impact the Foundation’s Aboriginal pathway is having on the young players today.

“There is more support out there than ever and when you’ve got an association like The WACA Ground putting their hand up and wanting to support us, it is just absolutely fantastic,” Jackson says.

“To have a Reconciliation Action Plan that WA Cricket have, the Foundation and the Foundation Board, it has evolved to being such a massively inclusive game.”

Veronica Keen is just one cricketer who has been through the Aboriginal pathway and was one of three female players in the inaugural intake for the Aboriginal Talent Academy.

After playing backyard cricket as a youngster, she has gone on to bat her way to being leading run scorer and captain in last year’s NICC and at a club level playing A-Grade at Midland Guilford Cricket Club.

“I’ve been part of the WA Cricket Foundation pathway for the last two years and I was really lucky to have a scholarship last year which really helped me in my cricket development,” Keen says.

“Not only has it helped develop my skills further and opened up more pathways for the future, but it has also helped me learn more about culture and my background.”

For Keen, having equal opportunity within cricket is an important step in her journey and is something which means the world to her.

“It helps us get to the level where we are currently at and allows us to be comfortable in the community and in our teams,” Keen says.

“The pathway creates the professionalism which has gotten a lot better and it has become more open to people, there are a lot of new players every year and really expanding opportunities for everyone to develop their skills and be part of performance programs.”

Always looking for ways to help build a better tomorrow, Jackson believes the right track has been found and is one we need to stick to.

“Participation is up massively in cricket, especially in the Aboriginal space,” he says.

“Kids don’t take on cricket to play for Australia, they play for enjoyment and then they find out they are good for it and that is where the stepping stones are.”

National Reconciliation Week runs between May 27 and June 3 each year and centers around a theme, with this year’s theme being Now More Than Ever.

“Through the work of the WA Cricket Foundation, more than ever we’ve had opportunities to be involved within higher cricket levels and guiding our youngsters through the ranks,” Jackson says.

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