Saturday, January 16, 2021

Everyone’s a winner

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The Melbourne All Abilities Cricket Association blends social consciousness with sport, offering a game where anyone can take part

Though it wasn’t a party, it was no less enjoyable for each participant, because everyone on the field was a winner.
Organised by the Melbourne All Abilities Cricket Association (MAACA), two important cricket matches took place at Hansen Reserve in West Footscray in late January. The Super League match, which is traditional cricket with full sports gear for high functioning players, was held between Yarraville Club Cricket Club (YCCC) and Skye Cricket Club. A 10-Over Tonks match, which is more of a participation-based soft rubber ball competition for low functioning players, was held between Yarraville Club Cricket Club (YCCC) and Moorabbin Cricket Club (MCC).

All the players, standing proud in their glistening uniforms, were excited about the game. YCCC won the toss and opted to bowl in the 30-over match.
All abilities cricket has been played around Victoria sporadically for the past decade, however, it was only in 2015 when the Melbourne All Abilities Cricket Association (MAACA) was founded with the objective of giving all abilities cricket a more formal platform. This association is a pioneer in its field and is supported by Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia.

Hussain Hanif, Coach for YCCC, told Indian Link, “Yarraville Club Cricket Club is the sole club catering to all abilities in the western suburbs. We are also the only club in Melbourne which has both Super League and Ten-Over Tonks teams. And both the teams are topping the charts in their respective groups,” he added with pride.
By the 24th over of the first innings, Skye Cricket Club had lost all their wickets and set a target of 138 for YCCC.
Special guests present at the event were Sam Almaliki, Head of Community Engagement for Cricket Australia; Aaron Wharton, Community Programs Coordinator for Cricket Victoria; and Stephen Lefebvre, President of MAACA.
MAACA.Indian Link
“Cricket Australia has an extensive program in place under the National Disability Cricket Strategy, through which we plan to expand All Abilities Cricket across the country,”Almaliki said. “Coaching sessions and week-long clinics are being organised in over 112 schools and we are educating clubs to be more inclusive, to cater to all ethnicities and genders, by providing workshops about inclusion and diversity training. This is the inaugural season in Victoria but there will be a national tournament at the end of this year.”
In the 27th over of the second innings, YCCC beat Skye Cricket Club by two wickets to become league champions.
“MAACA is the first all abilities cricket association in Australia,” said Stephen Lefebvre, President of Melbourne All Abilities Cricket Association. “It allows the players to belong to a mainstream club and feel included. As an initiative to generate awareness amongst non-participative clubs, we have invited them here today to come and view the game themselves and to take out the myth and mystery that surrounds running an all abilities team.”

He also added, “Being a part of a team is a big thing for these guys. They live it and love it, every minute they are on the field – and off too.”
It was a match like no other. The losing team also won, with the happiness evident across their faces. People are different, but that doesn’t mean they need to be treated differently. Our society should not be about segregation it should be all about integration.
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