When Youth Aid Constable Ben Heap was looking at the Whanganui Primary Schools Summer Kiwi Cricket draw, he thought something wasn’t quite right.
There were a few schools that were not on the draw, so Ben and the Youth Aid team got the ball rolling to get them involved.
“It was a bit frustrating to see that not all the primary schools featured, especially as the more-equipped schools had multiple teams entered,” says Ben.
“The team and I discussed what we could do to help, which led to us approaching two of these schools – we wanted to start off small with just a few teams so we could manage it well."
The students' first training session.
Gonville, Carlton, and Castlecliff schools ended up getting onboard, as did one home-schooled student.
“After talking with the schools and a bit of word of mouth, we ended up with 17 kids from years 2, 3 and 4 who signed up and loved it,” says Ben.
“It’s great to get kids into sport – if we didn’t do this, then 17 kids wouldn’t be playing cricket, learning a new sport, developing skills, and learning what it’s like to be part of a team.
“We’ve had one school term with the kids playing and this is how the cricket initiative dubbed ‘Cricket is the Wicket’ was born.”
Kiwi Cricket is six-a-side and the two teams, the Renegades Kākāriki (green) and Renegades Māwhero (pink), are made up of six girls and 11 boys.
Ben, a keen cricketer, also saw an opportunity to help through his local club, the Whanganui Renegades.
“It made sense to use the club as a vehicle to foster a new generation of talent, giving the kids the opportunity to play a game that they may have never been offered at their school,” says Ben.
“Sergeant Craig Yorston and I coached the kids a day a week and we played our games on Friday evenings up at Victoria Park.”
Blue Light Whanganui came on board and paid for the shirts, which was very much appreciated by the Renegades as funding is hard to come by.
“The kids loved getting their shirt each week," says Ben.
“A massive thank you to Blue Light Whanganui from the Renegades – our ‘MiniGades’ wore their shirts with pride and would tell each other that they were Renegades.
“The kids and us have had heaps of fun and it’s great to see how much they improved from when they began late last year, to when we wrapped up recently. We very much look forward to doing it all again in Term Four!”