Cricket Australia's Chief Executive Officer, James Sutherland along with Nicola Carey, Lauren Smithland, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Damien Fleming and MILO Ambassador, Holly Ferling launched the 2017-18 MILO Junior Cricket season today in Sydney on Cockatoo Island.
The launch celebrated 25 years of partnership with MILO for Junior Cricket which includes MILO in2CRICKET and MILO T20 Blast programs and formed part of a week-long National Play Cricket Week Tour.
The tour has showcased the fun, inclusive and diverse nature of cricket, whilst also acting as a mini pre-season for Mr Sutherland, who will be pulling on the whites again this summer to join his son in a father and son competition.
Mr Sutherland, was thrilled to be at the launch of the junior programs at Cockatoo Island in Sydney.
'MILO's support for junior cricket in Australia for 25 years has been fundamental to the success of the junior programs and is one of the longest standing grassroots partnerships in Australia, and we'd like to express our thanks to MILO for their strong support of the sport. 'All my kids have been through the MILO cricket programs as many other Aussie kids have. Last season alone we had more than 78,000 kids aged between 5 and 12 across the country participate in MILO In2Cricket and MILO T20 Blast.
'The programs provide a great way to build kids' self-confidence and teach them important values such as respect, sportsmanship and teamwork. Importantly, the programs are all inclusive of kids' abilities and backgrounds for girls and boys alike."
Club cricket - including junior programs such as MILO In2Cricket and T20 Blast - is integral to the sport, the individuals who come together to play in a team and the wider cricket community. Nearly half a million players, or just over 30% of all cricket participants are involved at the club and community level.
MILO spokesperson, Margaret Stuart, said, 'MILO has fuelled a generation of young champions through MILO Cricket programs. More than half a million Aussie kids are introduced to the sport through MILO Cricket programs each year, learning important values such as teamwork, while getting active in a fun and social environment.
'For parents, it's hugely rewarding to see their children active and see special moments like a child taking their first wicket, knowing their child is forming lifelong friendships, learning important life skills – and maybe experiencing once in a lifetime opportunities like meeting their cricket idols, or playing on the SCG.
'We thank everyone who's been part of MILO Cricket programs over the past 25 years, but especially the parents and volunteers, who put so much effort into helping make MILO Cricket a fantastic experience for kids," Ms Stuart said.
Mr Sutherland has visited all eight states and territories throughout this week – an unusual and original national tour that has seen him showcase all formats of cricket that are available to the Australian public. Each state and territory has focused on a different area of grassroots cricket to showcase that cricket is a 'sport for all.'
'This week I've been able to try out a range of cricket activities around the country. From pulling on board shorts for a session of beach cricket on the Gold Coast, to facing bowling with a giant cricket bat in Melbourne to show why we have introduced new junior formats to make the game easier and more fun for children, to playing alongside the All Abilities League in Perth, and against a boys team at Yirara College in Alice Springs, it has been a one of the most inspiring and humbling experiences anyone can enjoy," Mr Sutherland concluded.
The MILO cricket programs are a grassroots cricket program that is run by Cricket Australia with support from MILO. There are two key grassroots programs – MILO In2Cricket, which is for kids aged 6-8 and MILO T20 Blast which is for kids aged 8-12.
To find out more about MILO Cricket Programs or to find a local club, please visit www.playcricket.com.au
Question: What originally inspired you to play cricket?
Holly Ferling: I was a sporty kid growing up and I loved trying as many sports as I could. I was introduced to the MILO junior cricket programs (named Have-A-Go Cricket all those years ago) at the age of 6 or 7. I continued playing netball and touch football and didn't pick up the cricket bat or ball again until I was 12 years old, apart from the odd backyard cricket game. A girl I played a lot of sport with encouraged me to trial for a representative team in cricket, and that's where it all began! I haven't looked back since!
Question: How did playing cricket as a child help your development?
Holly Ferling: I think cricket teaches young Aussie kids so many life lessons from such a young age. While there are very individual and isolated skills like batting and bowling, teamwork is vital to take wickets and to win. I learnt how to respect the game, my teammates, coaches, umpires and opponents. Probably one of the biggest lessons though is learning how to be resilient. Sometimes things don't go your way on the cricket field, but you have to find a way to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.
Question: Why do you think Australian children should be playing cricket?
Holly Ferling: Cricket not only teaches you lessons that you take with you for the rest of your life, it is a heap of fun! You get to spend time out in the sun with a heap of your friends. The cool part about cricket is that there are so many skills you can learn and be good at. I'm not very good at batting but I found I was really good at bowling. Everyone will find a skill that they like the most. Also, cricket is a sport for everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from, whether you are a boy or a girl. It really is a sport for all!
Question: Can you share some words of wisdom to get girls playing cricket?
Holly Ferling: I was from a country town in Queensland and I was one of the only girls that played cricket in my town. I played a lot of boys and men's cricket growing up which can be quite scary but I found it a lot of fun. The biggest thing I learnt is that they're more scared of you than you are of them! They don't want to get out to a girl which works in our favour!
I had no idea that cricket would be the sport for me until I had a friend ask me to try it out. My biggest advice to girls is to get out there, have a go and find your local club. You could be like me and find it is the sport you were meant to play!
Question: How do you hope to inspire Australians to pick up a cricket bat or ball?
Holly Ferling: I hope to show the next generation that girls can play cricket too. It wasn't until I was around 14 years old that I even knew that there was an Australian Women's Cricket Team. Now, I go to MILO In2Cricket programs and there are young girls, only 7 years old telling me they want to play in the Women's Big Bash League. It's absolutely unbelievable to see have far women's cricket has come over the last few years, but I hope I can continue to change the incorrect perceptions that cricket is -the gentleman's game'.
Question: How did MILO help support your cricket goals?
Holly Ferling: The MILO In2Cricket and MILO T20 Blast programs develop the next generation of superstars! So many of the Australian and domestic elite cricketers started their careers in the MILO junior cricket programs, and look where they are now! I remember learning new skills in a fun and encouraging environment in my MILO junior program back home in Kingaroy, many years ago. We are super lucky to have MILO on board again for the 25th year, which is the longest standing grassroots sport sponsoring Australia. Half a million Australian kids are introduced to cricket each year through these programs, which for some may just be the start of journey into the Australian team!
Question: What would we find in your gym/training bag?
Holly Ferling: My gym bag has a lot of different stuff in it. Sunscreen is essential! Often we go from gym indoors to cricket training outdoors so I always have to be prepared. My protein shaker is always packed to ensure I get the most out of my training by having a hit of protein after my workout. I always carry a water bottle and have a couple of sachets of Hydralyte so that I can get my electrolytes in to keep me hydrated! My togs are also always packed so I can do my ice bath recovery straight after training as well.
Question: What's a typical day like for you?
Holly Ferling: Every day is different for me! Some days I'll have gym, a skills session and pilates. Other days we'll have running and a skills session. I also study part time at university and I work casually as a reporter in the newsroom at a radio station. I also try and fit in catching up with a friends once a week/fortnight. But an average day might look a little like this:
6.00 AM - Wake up, have a banana for some energy
7.00 AM - Pilates
8.00 AM - Breakfast (lots of carbs and protein to help me refuel from pilates and fuel for the rest of the day)
9.30 AM - Bowling technique drill work
10.30 AM - Meeting with a coach/sport psyc/nutritionist
11.30 AM - Lunch
12.00 PM - Strapping and physio
1 - 4 PM - Team training
4.30 PM - Recovery (ice baths)
6.30 PM - Dinner
7.30 PM - Catch up on uni work
10.00 PM - Bed time
Question: How often do you train?
Holly Ferling: We train 6-7 days a week and do 2-3 separate training sessions a day. It makes it really busy but there is so much you can pack into a day. At the elite level, we have to make sure we are working on all three aspects of our game (batting, bowling and fielding). On top of that, strength and conditioning is super important to not only make sure that we are fit, but to reduce the risk of injury. I do extra sessions by myself with pilates to ensure that as a bowler, I am training and strengthening all the little muscles to help me bowl the best of my ability and protect me from injury. As we get into the season, we have at least one match a week.
Interview by Brooke Hunter