By Sam Watson
WOOLWORTHS Cricket Blast at Meeniyan is absolutely bursting at the seams.
Husband and wife team, Phil and Julia Allen, are coordinating the Blasters for the MDU Cricket Club and to say they’re succeeding would be an understatement.
After having 10 young cricketers at their first session in 2019, they’re now averaging 50 kids every week.
When the Allen family arrived in Meeniyan in 2017, there was no junior cricket.
So, with a 12-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son who both loved the game, the couple knew they had to get something going at their local club.
Woolworths Cricket Blast encourages five to 12-year-old kids to get active through the great game of cricket.
The program is split into two divisions of young cricketers.
The Junior Blasters focus on learning the fundamentals skills of cricket, like catching and throwing.
The Master Blasters focus more on game play and continuing to enhance their cricketing skills.
Coaching the young cricketers is the blast crew, which is made up of senior cricketers at MDU.
The blast crew includes head-coordinator and researcher Phil Allen, A Grade captain Joel Sinclair, MDUCC president Mark Cantwell, Nick Eddy, Mike Munday, and Damian Howard.
All are senior cricketers at MDU.
Julia Allen, Penny Munday and Sarah Thomas oversee the off-field aspect of the Blasters program.
Allen believes it’s extremely important to have kids involved in sport and she said local parents were all thinking the same thing.
“The connection between physical activity and mental wellbeing post-COVID was front of mind for most families.”
Along with admin responsibilities, Allen and the other off-field helpers have been in charge of the “walking bus” from the Meeniyan Primary School.
At the end of every Thursday, more than 40 students wait for the Blasters crew to walk them from the school down to the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve.
“They’re a pretty excited bunch,” Allen said.
The program is also paving the way for junior participation at a competition level for MDU. They now have an under 12s side which is made up of Blasters from last year.
The under 12s side, coached by Allen, start the night with the Blasters but after a few drills they move on to begin net training.
The club hopes they can keep the momentum going and in future years, fill all junior sides.
“After such a long hiatus of junior sport, hopefully we can turn this into something even more substantial,” Allen said.
The Blasters at the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve returned in late January, and their last session this summer will be on Thursday.
After the winter break, the program will resume on the first Thursday after Melbourne Cup weekend.
If you’re interested in signing up to your local Woolworths Cricket Blast program, head to playcricket.com.au.