The U16 Junior Redbacks League features six teams of the best male juniors in South Australia, all vying for selection for the SA Under 17 Squad.
“It was humbling actually”, said one of the boys on his return. “All four of us were in different franchise teams, so we each had our own lessons to go through and took away something of value and significance from the training program.”
Adi Dave (Southern Districts), Atish Ajaykumar (Waratah), Sam Elder (Waratah) and Cameron Hyde (Palmerston) all took part and are recent NT Representatives, having played in the National Underage Championships as well as the School Sport Australia 15 and Under Championships this year. They each played in different teams in Adelaide and experienced new team members, coaching techniques and training sessions.
On their return to Darwin, they reflected on their experience and met with their clubs, sharing their knowledge and bringing back a new outlook for their game and the local competition.
Mark Sorell, NT Cricket’s Head of Pathways is the former Head Coach of the Australian Women’s Team, the Southern Stars; as well as former Head Coach of South Australian Redbacks (Men) and South Australian Scorpions (Women) sides, and knows what it takes for players to step into a bigger system from a local competition.
“It is always a good opportunity for players to see what happens in a bigger cricket system. We have some fantastic facilities and competitions in the Northern Territory, and even though we’re smaller in number, our players get some fantastic opportunities to develop their cricket and get exposed to championship events. By going interstate, these boys had to really step out of their comfort zones and play with other coaches and teams. They didn’t have the usual people or resources around that they have come to rely on.’
In a sense, the programs Sorell oversees through NT Cricket are the making of our Territory young men and women, allowing them an insight into what it might be like to be win selection for first-class cricket. They need to be able to adapt to being away from home, self-manage, build relationships, meet other people to quickly bond and work together as a team. It’s not easy to do but by being able to test themselves they gain vital life skills that will serve them well in the future.
The boys themselves were quick to recognise this as they reflected on their experience being away. “We’ve had an opportunity and now it’s important that we repay it. There’s responsibility on all of us to choose to be role models and help others strive to do their best”
Sorell is pleased with the experience the boys gained from exposure to the Junior Redbacks League. He’s more than making cricketers, he is invested in helping and coaching people to improve themselves, their character, their ‘life skills’ as well as their cricket. It’s the example he sets too as a High Performance and former International coach, always looking for ways he can continue to improve and continue to learn, sharing his knowledge for the benefit of others.
“(The Junior Redbacks League)… is about developing leadership opportunities, the boys have to take ownership of their plans but also reflect on their experience and how they can use it to help change and encourage others. That’s the essence of these programs. The cricket experience is excellent, it’s first class, but there’s an opportunity for more learning than that. They suddenly realise they can be a leader, and it starts by managing themselves, cooking their meals while they’re away and being organised with their plans, time and gear. It’s a great learning experience.”
This holistic approach has clearly rubbed off on the four boys and the ripple effect through to their own clubs is having an impact. Each of the boys met with their club leaders to speak about their time away, the program and their major learnings and how they can contribute back at Club level.
The boys have returned with a new outlook and commitment to their cricket and their clubs. “It was humbling really. To be part of the Redbacks League and see the level of commitment and dedication of all the players involved was surprising to us all. Talking to them, you suddenly realise that some of those exceptionally talented boys have never had the opportunity to represent their state at a national championship. I guess it made us all feel privileged for the opportunities we’ve had to represent the NT. I don’t think we saw that before.’
The SA Team coaches praised the boys’ attitudes and provided each of them with feedback about their on-field performances as well as their ‘team fit’. The resounding feedback indicated the boys were coachable, listening and implementing feedback into their game plans, supporting others off the field and contributing to the team.
Sorell notes “the boys did really well. We’ve met with their club leaders and the boys gave a short presentation about their time away in the Adelaide League and what they had learned. It’s important for us all to remember that cricket today is where it is because of those people who have gone before us who have paved the way to make the game great. These young lads are now part of that, being able to share their skills with others and have an impact on shaping their clubs and the game here in the Northern Territory.”
The impact of their time in South Australia was summed up nicely by the young trio who returned to Darwin. “The camp really made us see where we stood in terms of the competition out there. We realise we get more opportunities than some players in other states, because we’re a smaller group and get noticed. But we’ve got to strive to work harder and more efficiently to improve our game and be above the average.
For more information about NT Representative Cricket, please contact Mark Sorell, Head of Pathways at NT Cricket on (08) 8944 8900 or email Mark.Sorell@ntcricket.com.au