Sydney Thunder players from each of the BBL and WBBL squads this week dialled in in to ‘virtually’ connect with remote and regional communities across NSW, and in the ACT, continuing the club’s commitment to regional engagement.
The 16 players included teenage star Phoebe Litchfield and Alex Ross, who tuned in from South Australia.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, they spoke to a number of schools, clubs, associations and Academies, from as far south as Corowa to the western NSW outback town of White Cliffs, with a population of 103.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the players were unable to visit the regional communities in person this year.
Rachel Trenaman, who grew up in Wagga Wagga, spoke to schools and district associations on the South Coast. The 19-year-old was joined by Rebel WBBL|05 Young Gun, Hannah Darlington.
Being her first such experience, Trenaman said it was really special.
“I absolutely loved it. Maybe more so than the kids,” Trenaman said with a smile.
“I was really hoping to be able to do it last year as a player, but school unfortunately took over. I think I would have loved that kind of experience when I was nine, 10, 11 years old in primary school.
“It kind of reminded me of being a kid in primary school and playing cricket at lunch time and recess with the plastic bat and the tennis ball.
“That’s where I started, in an all-boys school team, in Year 2.
“I think it’s so, so important, almost imperative, that as female athletes we are connecting with people in regional areas and showing them that it is possible.”
Rachel Trenaman celebrates a wicket.
The South Coast is a regional community who has endured more than most in recent times adding extra importance for Trenaman.
“They’ve had a bit of a rough trot the past 10-11 months with the bushfires and now COVID.
“This opportunity to visit a couple of schools and show our faces and answer a couple of questions from the kids, hopefully brightened their day, their week and with the cricket season coming up, something to look forward to as well.”
Cricket Manager for Far West NSW, Matt Ellis, hosted Tahlia Wilson and Kate Peterson on Wednesday, who visited some of the more remote schools in the state.
“It was really good to have a couple of young female WBBL players, particularly for some of the young primary school girls,” said Ellis.
“I’ve already had a couple of teachers come back to me just reiterating how thankful they were for the opportunity to take part.
Tahlia Wilson speaks to Forbes Public School.
“We’re trying to inspire a love of cricket and this is a great way to do that by offering the students the opportunity to ask questions and hear stories and just see, albeit virtually, what it’s like to live in the life of a professional cricketer.”
For the cricket staff and volunteers on the ground, the regional engagement is a real lift.
“I think it makes us feel a part of the Thunder Nation, as staff," Ellis said.
“To have some of them come into our world for a day or two is a real boost to us."