March 20, 2018

Cricket cup teaching self-confidence for people with disabilities

Related Story: Disabilities proving to be no barrier for talented cricketers as academy launched in SA

"Look at me hit a six," Brodie Hodgetts yells joyfully as he smashes a cricket ball his carer has bowled him, sending it up into the stands.

"Bring it on man, bowl me John!" Brodie says loudly and happily.

The 28-year-old with an intellectual disability says he is a fan of former Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath.

Today, another one of Brodie's heroes has come to watch him play.

"There's my Mum there," Brodie says, pointing. He runs to her for a cuddle in between overs.

At the Moonah sports centre in Hobart, it's the first time Marie Hodgetts has come to watch her son — who she says is obsessed with cricket.

Jason Schmidt from Cricket Tasmania at the Hurricane Inclusion Cup.

"He was a little upset this morning, so I said, 'What if I come and watch you play cricket?'" Ms Hodgetts says.

"And it's just nice to see the staff, the way they work with him. It's just amazing to see everybody so happy."

Cup empowering youngsters

The competition in which Brodie is taking part, the Hurricane Inclusion Cup, was first set up by Jason Schmidt from Cricket Tasmania.

It is name after, and gets support from, the Hobart Hurricanes, Tasmania's team in the national Big Bash League.

More than 65 people are playing in the statewide competition that has been designed to enable Tasmanians with intellectual and physical disabilities to play cricket.

Mr Schmidt stands alongside one of the players, Matthew Hill, who uses a frame to walk. As he approaches the crease, he hands him a larger bat to use.

Mr Hill says the best thing about the Hurricane Inclusion Cup is Mr Schmidt, who has become a friend and mentor.

Young players take part in the Hurricane Inclusion Cup in Hobart, Tasmania.

All the players greet him with excitement, giving the tall, grinning man wearing the Hobart Hurricanes' purple kit high fives.

Mr Schmidt says the competition has helped people realise they can do more than they thought.

"We focus on the things they can do, rather than what they can't," he says.

"Each and every [player] has blossomed — they've got more confidence in themselves and become more social."

'Everybody has something to offer'

Mr Schmidt says when he first started the Inclusion Cup, the hardest thing was getting people to chase the ball themselves instead of expecting someone else would go and get it.

But as players' cricket skills have improved, so has their ability at home to help with chores such as washing up and laundry.

It's helped give them a sense of independence, something that is often difficult without inclusive transport options, says Tim Haggis from Australian Disability Sport.

Jason Schmidt from Cricket Tasmania with a young player at the Inclusion Cup.

"Most people with disabilities don't drive for various reasons so they are relying on public transport or some form of organised transport," Mr Haggis says.

"So probably the better participation sports do have transport in place where people are helped to get to and from the venue."

The players who take part in the Hurricane Inclusion Cup arrive in minibuses driven by their carers.

The Cup has been so successful that some of the players Mr Schmidt works with are joining their local cricket clubs.

"Everybody has something to offer within the community," Mr Schmidt says.

"Especially people with disabilities with different perceptions of the world, and it also teaches the community patience and understanding."

Original Article

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