BULLIMBAL students can dream of slipping on a baggy green after a group of Rotarians brought Dream Cricket to them.
The students welcomed children from Tamworth West Public School for a morning of learning cricket skills, then playing a modified version of the game, last Thursday.
Dream Cricket co-ordinator Rick McCarthy, from the Bradman Foundation and the board of Dream Cricket International, said the game gave the kids an opportunity to play sport.
Bullimbal’s Greg O’Sullivan said it was an inclusive program to fire up some interest in cricket for kids with disabilities.
“There might be one or two doing backyard cricket, but I’m not aware of anyone involved in teams,” he said.
“It’s more about having encouragement to get involved and have a go; there are quite a few helpers to encourage that. Students may possibly join teams after this. If someone in the family or a friend is interested, then they might get involved.”
Mr O’Sullivan said the school recently held its sports day, which was a good opportunity for family and friends to come in and support the students’ sporting activities.
“We don’t have a lot of opportunity for team sports, but we went to a multi-sports day at the Sports Dome, where they tried cricket, rugby, golf and AFL,” he said.
Dream Cricket started four years ago in Bowral, after the Movement Disorder Foundation saw how the Miracle League worked in the US with baseball.
The program also provides a pathway for children to get to the Special Olympics; from there they have a commitment from the Paralympics to have a Paralympian at the Special Olympics spotting for talent.
Mr McCarthy said he was asked to build a program around cricket and it then took 18 months to convince schools their children with disabilities could play sport.
“We come into schools where the students feel comfortable, and Rotary clubs in the area donate a cricket kit to schools,” he said.
“Then they can play weekly in their schools.”
He said he hoped to see the region have an annual Dream Cricket Day, where students could come from schools ranging from Moree to Armidale and surrounds.
“Hopefully they can come together and have a gala day to play cricket,” Mr McCarthy said.
He said the program was growing in popularity every year.
“In two years we have covered 35 country towns in NSW, as well as Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland,” Mr McCarthy said.
“I’ve also been to Chennai and Columbia to start the program there and I’m going to New Zealand in February. We will have covered 67,000 children; the reason it works so well is because of Rotary.”
Tamworth First Light Rotary Club organised the program at Bullimbal.
The program covers children with mental, physical and social disabilities, sight impairments and hearing loss.