Cricket's challenge

THE Mid North Coast is a 'challenging area' for junior development according to development officer Ashley Bryant.

Based in Port Macquarie, Bryant, 29, has been working here for five months.

NSW will be the third State he's worked. Originally from Adelaide, Bryant, 29, spent time in Kalgoolie before moving here. His area covers from Tea Gardens-Bulahdelah-Gloucester to Stuarts Point.

"People told me the travel is too much,'' he said.

"But I previously worked in Kalgoolie and my area was virtually the size of NSW. Spending a couple of hours in a car travelling somewhere is nothing,'' he smiled.

And the area also throws up different challenges for Bryant and cricket. The days of the dominance of football codes in the winter and cricket in the summer have gone the way of black and white TV.

"There's more pressure from other sports - particularly on the coast,'' he explained.

He believes changing the perception on how the game needs to be promoted is paramount. Bryant claims there's too much emphasis on high performance units in this area and not enough on getting more kids involved in the game.

"The participation rate on the Mid North Coast is poor,'' he said, frankly.

"And it seems to get worse as you head south. It's not too bad in Kempsey but it could be a lot better in the southern area.''

Bryant believes cricket has to look beyond the square to attract more juniors.

"I've been working in the Great Lakes area and the word coming out of there is the parents in particular don't want Saturday morning play,'' he said.

"So we're looking at getting more into organising more programs for after school hours.''

Bryant also wants to work in closely with the various junior association and clubs and assist them in the areas of administration and governance.

He said like all sports, cricket relies on volunteers to fill positions at club and association level.

Many are inexperienced when they first take on a job - often one that no-one else wants - and he's happy to assist in any way possible when it comes to details like applying for grants.

"And a lot of people don't understand that the busiest part of my year is from June to November even thought the cricket season doesn't start until October,'' Bryant added.

"That's when we put our plans and strategies in place for the following season.

"We're already starting to plan for next season."

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