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Cricket Sporting Schools Program Smashes the Boundaries

Students playing cricket at Henderson College in Mildura

A Year 4 student from Henderson College in Mildura has described playing in a game of cricket as part of the Sporting Schools program as “the best day of my life”.

The four week program has allowed the college to take significant steps to establish cricket as part of its sports offering after students from Years 3-10 embraced the program.

A quarter of students at the school come from a Language Other Than English [LOTE] background and the experience transformed all of the participants who had little - if no - interest in the game to keen cricketers.

Additionally, one of the Year 6 female students who joined a club team after their involvement in the program was selected for the Victorian state under 12s team.

Henderson College’s high school girls, most of whom had previously been reluctant to participate in sport, were especially keen participants in the cricket program. One of the contributing factors behind the program’s success was the effort, energy and encouragement that coach Natasha Anstee brought to each session.

Natasha ensured each session was filled with fun and a variety of skills, but she also focussed on strategies and team play. Her approach helped ensure the students remained engaged in the activities and it also kept them motivated to learn and perform.

The students’ heightened engagement in cricket was best reflected by comparing the college’s participation in the T20 Blast Sunraysia District competition in successive years.

Last year the school struggled to enter one Year 5/6 team, this year – after trials – it entered girls’ and boys’ teams from Years 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10 (Years 3/4 couldn’t compete because they were on a student free day).

The turnaround has been spectacular. Before Term 4, 2017 Henderson College didn’t have an active Cricket School Ambassador, compete in Cricket Australia’s participation programs and none of its students played cricket in the local community.

Since registering for a Cricket Australia coach-delivered, four-week Sporting Schools Program the school has significantly increased its involvement in cricket. Off the back of Sporting Schools, Henderson College now has:

  • An active Cricket School Ambassador
  • Registered for a Secondary Schools Sporting program for 60 students
  • Participated in a MILO T20 Blast school cup against other schools in the Mildura region
  • Run a MILO T20 Blast intra school cup where students competed in their school sports houses
  • Will be running a MILO T20 Blast Centre (registered community program) at their school. This gives the students of Henderson College the opportunity to play cricket outside of school hours in a safe and familiar setting. A large proportion of Henderson College students were unable to participate in community club cricket on weekends due to religious commitments so by having a MILO T20 Blast Centre at the school the barriers for participation have significantly decreased.

Additionally, the funding that was left over from the Sporting School grant allowed Henderson College to buy some much-needed cricket equipment. However, the College believes that the success of the program shouldn’t be measured solely by money, grants or equipment.

The college’s Physical Education Coordinator Michelle Johnson said: “The spirit it has created is priceless.”

“When a Year 4 student with individual needs – who had the best day of his life playing cricket – was batting, a boy who is a talented fast bowler told the umpire he’d bowl slower to his school-mate to give him a fair go,” she said.