Played cricket all my life. Very passionate
about cricket but most of all very passionate about getting young people involved in sport. The passion – good sport to play. There’s Japanese people, Sudanese, all from
different backgrounds, Indian…lots. We have a huge diversity of cultures at the
Sunshine Heights Cricket Club. Our most recent group is the Sudanese. We have about 13 Sudanese
boys playing for us. Vietnamese, Philippino , Maltese, Greek – you name it I think
we are represented by about 20 different cultures. Our (Cricket Victoria) main program is the
Harmony in Cricket program. That’s targeted as cricket being a game for all people regardless
of their cultural background, age, religion, gender or ability. Love how you get to meet new people, make
friends and yeh have fun. Theme music When I first saw people playing cricket I
thought they were people chucking the ball and just hitting it. Then after that I started
getting experienced and I started playing and I started understanding the game like
how you play it. I started playing cricket because my coach,
who is a primary school teacher at the local school, got my brothers into it. My brother
asked me if I could play and now I’m playing. About five years ago I had a whole group of
Grade 5-6 boys who started to get a little bit interested in cricket. They were playing
cricket out in the yard and all that kind of thing so I made contact with the Sunshine
Heights Cricket Club and that was when my relationship started with them. Theme music I wouldn’t be playing cricket right now
and I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t get these opportunities to play on the MCG and
all this stuff. It just brings a fantastic thing to the cricket
club in that I see cricket as a reflection of society and I think local cricket clubs
should reflect their community. Cricket is very much about Australian culture
and very much about Australian summer so it helps them integrate and understand what Aussies
are all about but it’s also very important for them to get involved with healthy activity
and it’s a popular way to do so. The fact that they feel and belong to something.
Other than their family or school they actually have somewhere else where they can feel that
they can belong and feel welcome. The main opportunities are kids integrating
with clubs, their local community, they make friends, parents get involved and they create
a really good club culture and club environment. There are also the health opportunities as
well. Just getting out there being healthy and engaging in physical activity. Theme music What I love about bowling is trying to get
it on the spot, not trying to bowl too quick. Just try and keep it on the spot, keep it
tidy. For cricket specifically there are a few challenges.
(and one is) For a new arrival community there’s issues of language, communication and just
cultural issues. There’s also, particularly for new kids coming to the country who may
not have established homes and communities yet, it’s also finding the money to afford
things like cricket bats, balls and helmets and so on. One of the things that happen is that they
tend to struggle at school initially particularly our most recent arrivals the Sudanese refugees.
However they love sport. They have a real passion for sport and they are very good at
it. So getting them involved in organised sport in a sporting club it’s a great way
to develop their self esteem and the way they view themselves in the world. Theme music They’ve helped me with a lot of things like
equipment and transport and they’ve given me all the equipment that I need to play cricket
with. With transport my coach is nice enough to pick me up every morning to all my cricket
matches and sometimes training. The main strategy that Cricket Victoria looks
at is our partnerships. We have a strong partnership with Vic Health and the state government to
fund a lot of these projects. At a local level we look at clubs to get involved with local
sponsors, other cricket clubs and to get more community and volunteer involvement, even
look at other funding partners as well. This year we’ve been really lucky through
forming a relationship with Cricket Victoria, through their Harmony in Cricket program,
to have employed for the first time a multicultural aid. He is a Sudanese man by the name of Quan.
He has been brilliant with liaising with families, basically breaking down language barriers
sometimes. Theme music Ricky Ponting – he’s a very good batsman
and I like his style of play. I wish to be like him one day. First of all win the trust of the families
and the parents. I guess for other clubs it’s a case of going around and meeting the parents
and introducing themselves and really winning their trust. They can see that you are there
for the kids and that you are going to provide a really good opportunity for them. It is new and it could be scary for a lot
of club volunteers to start looking at involving kids and particularly new arrivals into their
clubs. So for clubs starting look at other projects at other clubs that are already doing
it. Ask for help because those clubs are always willing to help out as they are generally
proactive and even speak to Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia. This is an area that
both organisations are supporting in Victoria. Theme music The possibilities are endless. I look at the
moment at some of our Sudanese boys who are developing into really talented fast bowlers
and I think that Cricket Victoria and organisation with pathways programs would be mad not to
be getting out and really tapping into some of this talent. I think that we are just scratching the surface.
There’s a lot of opportunity for cricket to grow to other multicultural groups. We’ve
seen it happening with our own eyes and I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg
and hopefully we’ll see a Sudanese or Vietnamese kid pulling on the baggy green one day so
that’s the ultimate for me to see but generally to see all these new kids take up the sport
of cricket and get healthy and engaged. I want to play for Australia one day and captain
the Australian team.

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Dennis Veasley

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