Flood of goodwill for T20
WHAT started as a heartfelt desire to help out fellow Aussies down on their luck may be the groundwork for future charity activism from the sporting community.
Agonising TV vision from multiple flood disasters around the nation spurred players and administrators of Coffs Harbour District Cricket Association into action.
Some, like Park Beach Bowling Club Colts president and middle-order batsman Neil Coogan, are native Queenslanders and after watching the disaster unfold knew they had to do something to help.
Today’s knockout Pacific Property Management Twenty20 Cup to be played at Coffs Coast Sports and Leisure Park has come together almost overnight and is potentially the forerunner of bigger and bolder, charity events.
In the space of 10 days, 67 leading businesses have become sponsors and that’s only the latest count.
“We were blown away by offers of support and after thinking we might raise $5000, if the weather’s fine and the crowds roll in, the sky’s the limit,” Coogan said.
Public figures shanghaied into the line-ups include Mayor Keith Rhoades and rugby league Test forward Richard Villasanti – newly signed by the Panthers – who will turn out for Sawtell.
In a tribute to the grand old club in their 50th year, the dynamic duo of Andrew ‘Slugger’ Fraser MP and ‘Run Out’ Renee of 2CSFM will wield the bat and turn the arm over for Diggers Ex-Services.
“Having guest players sparked the imagination and next year – we’re pretty certain this is only the start of something much bigger – the plan is to include more celebrity ring-ins,” Coogan laughed.
“Maybe we can allow entry of private teams made up of a bunch of mates or business house teams where the boss played cricket years ago and he gets one more chance at glory with his younger – and probably better – staff members.
“The whole concept is about having fun, while doing something positive for those poor people who’ve lost everything in the floods.”
A group of ‘elder statesmen’ will stride to the wicket as the Legends XI, while CHDCA supremo Ken Robinson has a traditional President’s XI made up of the most exciting ‘young guns’ of the competition to represent him. A team from Grafton Easts, some of whom were themselves affected by the floods, will deserve a special round of applause when their captain tells his players to ‘scatter’.
Spectators can purchase a $10 program which gives them multiple chances to win valuable prizes worth thousands of dollars.
Auction and raffle items include international travel and accommodation, food, hair care, fashion, fuel, home wares and cricket memorabilia.
“Make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen,” Coogan added.
“We’ll also do our part for the spectators by ensuring a happy, safe, family atmosphere.”
Umpires call ‘play’ at 9am and matches will continue on adjacent fields so patrons can watch as much action as possible.