St Joseph’s open invitation to join inclusive program

November 11, 2021 BY

One of the participants in a similar All-Abilities program at St Joseph's last year learning the basics of bowling. Photos: SUPPLIED

A NEW inclusive program named after a long-time supporter of the St Joseph’s Cricket Club has been launched to expose people of all abilities and backgrounds to the game of cricket.

The Matt Hopper All Abilities Cricket Program is set to begin at the club’s ‘Come and Try Day’ on December 2, where participants will be sorted into suitable groups before undertaking a six-week program beginning on February 3.

Long-time Joeys supporter Matt Hopper passed away 12 months ago and left behind a lasting impact at the cricket club. The new program was named in his honour.

Newly appointed co-ordinator of the program Sean Justin has been a part of the sport for more than 40 years, but this will be his first season as member of the St Joseph’s cricket organisation and he is excited to head up this new initiative.

“The program is based on being able to give any person at any age of any ability the opportunity to come and learn the sport, particularly if someone has a disability. We are really trying to target that demographic,” Justin said.

“I think being able to get everybody and anybody into cricket and giving them the chance to play cricket is fantastic and now is the time to do that.

“Cricket is a game that can be played by anybody and at virtually any age, and I guess I’m hoping to give these people the same opportunity I had where I met a lot of people and made a lot of friends.”

Justin is also an employee at local disability provider Gateways Geelong which will allow him use his linkages into special schools around Geelong to actively recruit students to get involved with this new program.

The ultimate goal for participants at the conclusion of the six-week program is to form a side and compete against another All-Abilities team at another club.

There are now talks taking place between St Joseph’s and Bell Park, as well as conversations with a side in Ballarat.

If these talks do not develop then Joeys will formulate their own sides for an intra-club all-abilities game.

The Matt Hopper All-Abilities program will cater to all participants and their respective needs.

Justin said the club was conscious of the degree of disabilities some participants may have and would offer several different activities to deal with this accordingly.

“For some people with their significant disabilities it will be like ‘Milo Have a Go’ where you hit balls off tees and do other activities found at that level,” he said.

“There will also be people fully padded up standing in the nets and sending them down.”

Sessions for the six-week program will be held on Thursdays at Zampatti Oval between 4.30pm and 5.30pm.

For more information, phone Sean Justin on 0419 357 261.

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