More than 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Gunnedah and Narrabri gathered at Kitchener Park Thursday, October 12, for an incredible day packed with cricket and culture.

One hundred and sixty-two children took part in a plethora of fun, skills-based cricket games on the field, and a tremendous net session with coaching and mentoring from Jeff Cook, the current NSW and Australian Indigenous men’s team coach, and Jason Krejza, retired NSW, TAS and Australian cricketer, now a sought-after coach.

The free Indigenous Youth Program, an initiative of the Cricket NSW Foundation, aims to provide youngsters from First Nations families throughout NSW with opportunities to play more cricket. The programs also incorporate elements of culture, recognising the importance of connection to heritage and mob for children with shared ancestry of First Peoples.

School children practise a batting drill during the cricket development day at Gunnedah.

The day opened with an acknowledgement to country in Kamilaroi language and English by 11-year-old Jai Wilson, accompanied by Beau Wortley on the clap sticks. A performance followed by the Deadly Dance Academy – an Aboriginal girls’ dance group whose members are aged between nine and 13.

A group of elders from the Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre facilitated craft activities throughout the day, teaching children about traditional weaving techniques and the meaning of corroboree.

Tamara Lowe, from the CNSW Foundation said: “Many of the children who attended our program in Gunnedah had never played cricket before. We hope that by providing days like this we support Indigenous children to develop a love for the game and become part of their local cricket communities, recognising the multitude of social and health benefits cricket plays in the lives of all Australians.”

Gunnedah was the first of three Indigenous Youth Programs funded by the Cricket NSW Foundation this season.

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