A three-day cricket competition will see a Victoria Country team and three metropolitan clubs play a round-robin event next month.LUKE MCMANUS December 20, 2013 4:57am
Over 60s cricket, the fastest growing brand of Australian cricket, is coming to Echuca.
Four teams from the Victorian Over 60 Cricket Association will converge on the district next month for three highly competitive and social days of cricket with some of the state’s more seasoned talent on show.
Representatives from Victoria Country along with metropolitan clubs Casey Iona, Glen Waverley and Gippsland will square off in a round-robin competition, to be staged at Victoria Park, Echuca South oval and Moama oval from January 20 to 22.
The VOSCA-endorsed competition has been welcomed by Goulburn Murray Cricket with chairman Jon Varcoe keen to incorporate an annual over 60s tournament on the summer calendar.
Varcoe said the concept was one of many new initiatives GMC was looking to implement.
‘‘We’re looking to grow cricket in more ways than one,’’ he said.
‘‘We don’t want to just focus on club or junior cricket, it’s in our strategic plan to explore different avenues like the over 60s concept.
‘‘We’re looking at the over 40s scenario, women’s cricket and indigenous cricket as well.’’
Over 60s cricket has seen a participation increase of 16 per cent in the past 12 months, with every state and territory (bar the Northern Territory) now boasting a metropolitan-based competition.
Eight national championships have been held, with 32 teams and 600 players from across Australia and New Zealand attending the 2013 championships on the Sunshine Coast in September.
Closer to home, VOSCA incorporates 15 teams into its 10-round season based predominately in and around Melbourne, with Victoria Country the only rural club involved.
Echuca South’s Jim Geltch, a key member of the Victoria Country team, said due to the concept’s growing popularity, discussions were underway to create a second country team.
Echuca and its surrounds has been pegged as an untapped resource for potential players, with Geltch describing January’s tournament as the perfect launching pad.
‘‘You only have to look at Australian demographics, it’s all about the ‘baby boomers’ and the explosion of those numbers ... that’s one of the reasons why we want and need to have a tournament here (in Echuca),’’ Geltch said.
‘‘It gives us an opportunity to expose older cricketers that gave the sport away but might want to be involved again.
‘‘It will give them an opportunity to come down, have a look and maybe play if they’re interested ... we’re certainly putting that offer out there.’’
While fitness is an obvious drawcard, the social aspect of over 60s cricket has played an even bigger role in encouraging former players to don the whites again.
Geltch highlighted that for some, when ‘boredom and the shapeless lifestyle’ of retirement starts hitting home, the lure of camaraderie and social interaction is what players enjoy above everything else.
It has also provided an opportunity for players’ wives, or ‘WAGS’, to be involved and accompany their partners on trips away.
‘‘Sometimes when guys retire they lose that capacity to interact with people, like they did during their working life and they fall back into a lonely environment,’’ Geltch said.
‘‘We had a barbecue at the club last year, one guy became really emotional and said, ‘you blokes have been my saviour’, and that resonated throughout the entire group.
‘‘Arguably, that is the most important factor.’’
Those seeking more information on over 60s cricket and next month’s tournament can contact Geltch on 0412 696 076 or by emailing email@example.com
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