A cricket match featuring members of the Sydney Thunder is coming to Bega this February, to entertain the crowd as well as to promote an important message around mental health.
The event is a result of the partnership between the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and the NSW Baggy Blues.
As part of the partnership, Sydney Thunder players will visit the town to coach and join in a Twenty20 match between the Tathra Cricket Club and the Bega-Angledale Cricket Club.
Bowler Chris Green and wicketkeeper Jay Lenton have been confirmed so far – in addition to former NSW Blues head coach Trent Johnston – but there are hopes to get more Thunder players down.
The visit is not just about cricket, but also about encouraging others to speak up about mental health issues.
Twenty20 match in Bega
- Thursday, February 21 from 4.45pm;
- George Griffin Oval, Bega;
- Tathra Cricket Club vs Bega-Angledale Cricket Club;
- Appearance of Sydney Thunder members.
Tathra Cricket Club president Adam Blacka said if he thought a teammate was struggling, he would ask them if they wanted to talk.
“If it’s sitting down in the shed or sitting down having a beer, whatever is comfortable with them, just try to get them to open up if they can,” he said.
“One of the hardest things, I know as a man, is opening up and talking – it can be very difficult.
“The easier we can get them to open up, the better.”
Mr Blacka said RAMHP offered mental health training and he hoped other sporting clubs would have a few members that would undertake that training too so they would have the skills to notice when someone may be struggling and need help.
RAMHP rural mental health coordinator Jen Keioskie said sport was good for everyone, and not just to improve people’s physical health.
When people played sport it produced positive chemicals in the body such as dopamine, she said, so it was very good for anxiety and depression.
“But anything that brings people together improves mental health,” she said.
“People are more likely to notice if someone is not doing okay if there’s a lot of people around them.
“If someone isn’t turning up to training, people are more likely to notice something is wrong and that they need to check in.”
The NSW government is sponsoring the RAMHP and Baggy Blues partnership $120,000 for the tour across various locations in NSW.
On Friday, February 8, Member for Bega Andrew Constance attend the announcement of the Sydney Thunder members’ visit to Bega.
“Cricket is the heart and soul of our country, so it’s a fantastic way to reach out,” he said.
“The beauty of this is it’s going to come from the community.
“And it’s going to save lives.”
On Wednesday, February 20, a trivia night will be held at the Commercial Hotel, Bega on sport and mental health.
Then on Thursday, February 21, there will be a coaching clinic at Bega Valley Public School, followed by a public coaching clinic at George Griffin Oval, Bega from 3.30-4.30pm.
From 4.45pm at the oval, the Twenty20 match will take place between Tathra and Bega cricket clubs.
In addition to the game, there will be a DJ as well as food stalls.
It will be a gold coin donation for entry, with the money going to support the Far South Coast cricket community.
Mr Blacka said he hoped the money would go towards funding a few people from each club to get mental health training.