BBL side visits Grafton schools ahead of Coffs Harbour clash
CRICKET: KFC Big Bash League side Sydney Sixers were in town today with visits to Grafton and South Grafton public schools before holding a club clinic in the afternoon.
Sixers squad members Dan Fallins and Justin Avendano joined kids to share their journey in cricket before setting up a number of skills development stations on the school ovals in promotion of their BBL game against Adelaide Strikers in Coffs Harbour on January 5.
Northern NSW area manager for Cricket NSW Martin Garoni was excited to see the kids out and about and said they have been able to elevate their operations in the region due to a recent boost.
"We've had staff out and about for the last 10 years in regional NSW but we've actually had a large increase in staff in the last eight months and we're now able to get into more schools to promote our great game to more kids in these regions,” Garoni said.
Garoni stressed the importance of sport among younger groups.
"It's vital. Things like the Active Kids Voucher have made it easier for kids to participate in sport. Obviously, our area is cricket but we're keen to get kids out and active to try and curb that obesity problem we have in all areas,” he said.
"We just want kids to get out and play sport as well as enjoying the outdoors.”
Garoni said the introduction of the popular BBL to the region will be key in future interest in the game.
"It's really exciting to be able to have the players out to showcase the BBL but also to get to regional centres,” he said. "Coffs Harbour is a fantastic venue to host not just women's internationals, which we've done before, but also a BBL game because it's really important for them to have that available. It's not only going to make them want to play, but also to develop a lifelong love of sport.”
Although the season is already under way, Garoni insisted anyone interested can still sign up.
"There's still plenty of opportunities for kids to play cricket, they just need to get on to playcricket.com.au and punch in their postcode to find their local club and there's still plenty of opportunity to play for the current season,” he said.
Rising Sixers star Fallins expressed his enjoyment in taking part in tours around schools.
"It's good fun, I love doing it. It's good to play cricket in a more relaxed environment. I came up to Port Macquarie for the Country Blitz a couple of months ago and it's a great spot with some awesome beaches,” he said.
"I've only really passed through Grafton before so it's nice to be able to stop in.
"I think if I was their age and someone paid a visit to my school like this, I would absolutely love it and kids are always really keen to get out and have a run around.”
Sixers batsman Avendano was also pleased to be able to take part in the program.
"It's really nice to get around the community. We've been through Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour before we got up here and for the kids who don't get down to Sydney too often, it's nice to come up and show our support,” he said.
Avedano said the popularity of the T20 format has helped the game grow among younger fans.
"It's exciting for everyone, not just kids but I tell you what, at every game there are probably more kids than adults there. It's really exciting and family friendly with fireworks and flames and at the end of the day, I'm a batsman so they want to see the fours and the sixes which I really love,” he said.
The talented player is looking forward to taking part in the first game in Coffs Harbour.
"Get along to the game. It's going to be a lot of fun and hopefully we can get a packed stadium there because the atmosphere is going to be incredible,” he said.
Sydney Sixers will take on Adelaide Strikers at C.Ex International Stadium in Coffs Harbour 6.40pm on January 5. Tickets and info at www.sydneysixers.com.au