Fresh from an early night I headed north this time to Richmond for their second annual DreamCricket Gala day. The dawn crisp air and the overcast skies making it difficult for the rising sun to bring warmth to the day, creating wonderful shades of pink and orange cloud over the distant city skies. Not a lot of traffic on the road which allowed me to cruise steadily along and gave me time to create in my mind the oval set up for the day’s program for the expected seventy children. As I drove closer to Sydney the traffic increased in numbers and seemed to draw you in like a magnet with increasing speed to keep up with the flow. A mixture of tradies ute’s, interstate semi-trailers, and corporate logo’d vehicles with everyone racing to get to their destination. The day has started and I am now part of it. Hume highway, M7, taking the off ramp towards Richmond, I was pleased to return to a moderate speed on a country road instead of a four lane race circuit.
Arriving at Richmond Park at 7.30am, a picturesque ground in the centre of town, manicured and surrounded by a white picket fence with a well maintained grand stand built in the sixties. Heritage green, yellow and touches of mission brown, similar to the Ladies stand at the SCG.
The Rotarians from clubs of the Hawkesbury (18 in all) had just arrived and were setting up the BBQ tent and registration area. After re acquainting with old friends I setup the oval ensuring the banners and equipment was noticeable by the passing locals, who occasionally then and throughout the day stopped to see what was happening.
We had one large zone of seven activities semi circled in front of the grandstand. I had not long finished when the High School boys and girls arrived, 6 from Arndell College, 11 from Kyper Christian School, 6 from Richmond High and 11 from Bede Polding College. The briefing included a short history of DreamCricket, explanation of each activity with the adjustment for individual abilities and the second stage to challenge each child, then allocation of students to each activity. In the back ground the excited children are arriving as their chatter echoes over the ground, eyes opening wide pointing at the different equipment and practicing air swings of batting and bowling. Lining them up in seven equal groups, inside the semi-circle, I extended a welcome and quickly run through the days proceedings. Allocating each group to an activity, the hooter sounded the start.
The involvement starts slowly but didn’t take them long to gain confidence. Rotating around every 15 minutes, with a drink break after three, and lunch at the completion of the seven rotations. The fun level was evident, increasing gradually and measured as if you were turning up the radio volume over the morning. The High school volunteers all did a great job enthusing, complimenting and assisting the children to achieve each task.
There is something about seeing 68 children laughing, squealing, punching the air and realizing they can, throw, catch, bowl, hit a ball and achieve, in some cases, for the first time.
The Mayor, Kim Ford and District Governor, Gina Growden circulated throughout the morning talking and joining in with the children then presented them with their newly deserved prize possession, a gold medallion at the end of the session.
The number of teachers and carers to each child, one to three, again showed total acceptance of the program throughout the Hawkesbury and I noted the most parents in attendance I have seen to date. Many of them complimenting both the Rotarians and DreamCricket for their devotion to such a program. It didn’t take long to pack up and debrief with the Rotarians, and promises of future extension to Penrith and the Blue Mountain areas.