The growth of cricket in Thames Valley hit new heights this summer as cricket festivals in the region welcomed 1,090 kids; the culmination of awareness sessions delivered in schools.
The 34 schools who participated in the festivals were given three coaching sessions by Waikato Valley and Northern Districts to prepare for the festivals, focusing on improving skills, game awareness and confidence.
Once the sessions were completed, the festivals provided the platform for kids to have further positive, inclusive experiences of cricket and apply the skills they had learned. Teams were mixed with kids from years 4-8, boys and girls all taking the field together.
Further success has been achieved with the growth of festival participation by girls, which can be traced to a successful Sista Smash Festival held on December 5 2019, where 252 girls from 16 schools formed 24 teams to play 50 games.
The 1,090 participants represent a 117% increase from last year's festivals, but Cricket Development Officer Ramesh Subasinghe isn't stopping there.
"We have been able to grow the game quite significantly in the Thames Valley area with the support of Sport Waikato," he said.
"This summer, we had over 4,600 kids receive cricket lessons and five new junior cricket clubs form in the area.
"With events such as our festivals, we are hoping even more kids will take-up cricket next summer," said Subasinghe.
"Cricket is a game for all New Zealanders, not just for players; we aim to connect communities and create happy memories that last a lifetime through cricket."
Thames Valley Junior Smash Festivals at a glance: