Twenty20 Premier League the result of one man's hard work
THE start of the Northern Premier League Twenty20 competition will mark the end of more than 12 months of planning for Nathan Anson.
Anson had the idea of creating a new competition of the popular cricket format for the Northern Rivers last year, and has spent most of his time since in organisation mode.
He has secured sponsors, created three franchises and acquired Lismore's Oakes Oval and Ballina's Fripp Oval to host the inaugural season.
Now, he is hoping for the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place.
"We're actually supposed to get a bit of rain this week so hopefully it holds off on Friday night," Anson said.
Anson has had more than a few roadblocks thrown in his way, but he said he was prepared for the enormity of the task.
One of his biggest issues was securing the grounds.
He used club links to get Fripp Oval on board, but Oakes Oval was a completely different story.
"I didn't know as much as I know now," Anson said.
"The grounds were a bit difficult. Just to hire the grounds is about $13,000 and you have lights and all the other costs on top."
His other challenge was bringing the players together, most of who are rivals in the Northern Rivers cricket competition.
"It's difficult to bring the really competitive players together as most wanted to play for their own teams," Anson said.
"We couldn't have the Ballina Bears or Casino Cavaliers play for that reason. Instead we've brought the players from those clubs under new banners."
This Friday night's first round will see the Western Cowboys take on the Southern Seahawks. "We made the effort to create completely new teams as there are quite a few guys who have only ever stayed with one club," Anson said.
"The Cowboys, for example, are made up of players from Casino, Lismore and Ballina. Eastern Vikings are your players from Byron, Ballina and Tintenbar.
"Southern Seahawks are all Ballina and Harwood.
"It is mainly based on geography but we didn't want to stack one team with all the talent."
Instead, Anson explained, the plan is for the areas to eventually feed players to the new teams.
"In years to come each area will hopefully take more ownership of the teams," Anson said.
"I hope it builds in the long term and we keep those franchises going.
"We'll try to bring in a few northern teams in the next few years, as we had a few players from Cudgen and Tweed who were interested in playing, but not enough for another team.
"There's opportunity to expand down to Coffs as they have a great ground and good players."