Souths president hits out at junior cricket fees rumour
A LETTER to the editor has sparked a fiery response from local cricketer Jason Thompson.
The letter, published in The Daily Examiner on September 10, suggested junior players were being priced out of the local game.
Thompson came out swinging last week, hitting the claims for six as he set the record straight.
"Junior cricketers do not have to pay $145 to play," Thompson said.
"I don't know where those numbers came from but they're simply not true."
Thompson, who is also the president of South Services, was formerly a member of the Clarence River Junior Cricket Association.
He said he could speak for Souths, adding that most local clubs would have similar pricing structures.
"The fees for junior players at Souths have gone up $10 in five years," Thompson said.
"They did not move for three years, and only went up last year when Cricket NSW stopped covering insurance costs.
"For an under-14s player to play a full season it is $70, and for 16s it's $90.
"I can't talk for down river clubs but that is how it is in Grafton."
Thompson explained every club supplied a junior equipment kit to players, with only the extra costs of a helmet, protector and box covered by the player.
He also dispelled suggestions pricing was stopping juniors from getting involved, instead pointing the blame at parents.
"The reality is parents aren't signing kids up to play sport because it is too hard," Thompson said.
"It is something that we have to try and turn around or cricket will die in this area. The spread of misinformation could turn people against the signing up and speed up that process.
"I don't want to see that happen."
The impending death of local cricket has been a talking point for years, and has not been helped by the much-publicised struggles of the national team.
Numerous plans to stop the decline in participation have been floated, the most popular being changing the days it is played.
CRJCA played different age groups across Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings last season.
Another recent plan has been to emulate the MILO IN2 Cricket programs run by Cricket NSW, where the style of international Twenty20 games is emulated.
"The junior association runs those programs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday during the season," Thompson said.
"We have tried to change the days the games are played as well.
"There are a huge percentage of people that want to make changes to the format but there are a few old heads around that don't want to see any changes."
A recent visit by NSW cricketers Doug Bollinger and Sean Abbott was the latest in a string of Cricket NSW programs aimed at junior cricketers.
A fortnight earlier, the Milo T20 Blast saw almost 850 Clarence Valley schoolchildren enjoy the shorter format.
The short format focussed on giving every student a chance to bat and bowl, while popular music blasted across the pitch.
It seemed a smash hit, but whether the association will implement a similar approach is yet to be seen.