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Blowfly Cricket

18 June 2019

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Energy and Environment) (18:56): I acknowledge an organisation that celebrated its tenth anniversary last Friday, BlowFly Cricket. This local sporting organisation gives kids living with a disability the chance to play cricket, the game we all love. It first began back in 2009. While most Australians remember it as a year we lost the Ashes, for me it was a great year in Australian cricket because BlowFly Cricket was born. Cricket is often said to be Australia's national game. But it took one man to realise that cricket could only claim the mantle of our national game if it could be played by everyone. BlowFly Cricket was born from that realisation.

The amazing Mark Rushton was speaking to a friend who had a profoundly autistic son. His friend said one of the toughest things was realising his son would never experience the joy of competitive weekend sport, something he had done as a kid. Mark himself was recovering from an accident that had left him paralysed and in a wheelchair. He wanted to offer the kids a chance to play sport. He wanted to create a cricket team that would see kids living with a disability compete in sport and give their families a chance to watch and cheer them on, just like he and his friend had done as kids. Australia's greatest cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman, once said:

The finest of athletes have, along with skill, a few more essential qualities: to conduct their life with dignity, with integrity, with courage and modesty.

Every single one of these words apply to Mark Rushton. Mark is still running BlowFly Cricket 10 years later and I can say with certainty it would not be the organisation it is without Mark's hard work and dedication. He was acknowledged for his contribution and named Adult Volunteer of the Year in 2015. The club has been recognised by Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia as being the leading example of how other clubs can set up a sporting organisation for people living with a disability. BlowFly Cricket has had many highlights over the past 10 years. In 2016 the club had a visit from Australian Cricket captain Steve Smith. He crossed live to Channel 9 from James Park in Hornsby. In 2014 a group of BlowFly players played on the Sydney Cricket Ground [SCG], showing off their skills to a crowd of over 30,000 people. Having played a few years ago at the SCG myself, I know how special that experience must have been for those players.

BlowFly Cricket has a strong involvement with the Hornsby Ku‑ring‑gai & Hills District Cricket Coaches' Association. It was the commitment made by president Bruce Wood to assist BlowFly Cricket that has seen this bond form between the two organisations. I acknowledge all the players who have gone through Cricket Australia Accredited Community (Level 1) Coaching Certificates and have participated in the innovative Uncoachables Coaching the Uncoachables program. This includes Ronnie MacKenzie, Nick Callanan-Williams, Maddie Jones, Emily Bardon, Akanksha Swarup, Alethea Lazaros-Cameron, Nathaniel Baker and Mark Perry. They are all part of the history of the club and they are also part of its future.

There are many players who have benefited from BlowFly Cricket over the past 10 years, including Aaron Lewis who loves playing sport. He has tried T-ball and soccer but he has never been as happy as he has been at BlowFly Cricket. Jacob Buczek was one of the first players who joined BlowFly Cricket. It was a difficult start; he took five years to join in and get involved. But since that time he has been hooked and never misses Saturday cricket. His parents credit the work of Mark for introducing and ensuring Jacob's love of the game. Maddie Jones was also reluctant to join in at first but is now not only a coach but also co-captain at James Park. I know her wonderful parents, Nicola and Rick, are very proud. From its beginnings at James Park, BlowFly has grown to a second location on Friday nights at James Henty Reserve at Dural. This year the club has been able to offer winter indoor cricket sessions.

Cricket is played by teams and teams are built by communities. Volunteers are an essential part of the winning team at Blowfly Cricket. Every win this club has had over the past 10 years it owes to the dedicated parents and volunteers. I honour and thank them all. I make special mention of Steve Perry, Jeni Goddard, Jason Buczek and Dougal Graham, who have gone above and beyond for this organisation. I also thank Andy Bayles, whose historical account of the organisation helped me write this speech. Blowfly not only has many volunteers but also has ambassadors who support the organisation. I mention Craig McDermott, our local hero Denise Anderson, Mick Connell, Errol Hyde, Alfred James, Bruce Wood and Michael Bazza Gillies. There are some impressive cricketing legends on that list.

A couple of weeks ago I was pleased to join in celebrations that saw Jacob Buczek, Ronnie MacKenzie and Mark Ruston named as life members of the club. This is an incredible achievement and something they should be immensely proud of. Finally I want to thank the players. No cricket club worthy of the name can exist without passionate players. The Blowflies are the most passionate cricketers of all. I wish the Blowflies every success on the cricket field and off and I know there will be many more years of great cricket in their future.