National Volunteer Week has been a wonderful opportunity for Cricket NSW to recognise and thank the thousands of selfless volunteers in our state.
A man who typifies what it is to be an extraordinary cricket volunteer is Broken Hill’s Peter Johnston.
Read his story below and if you’d like to see a volunteer recognised, email email@example.com.
About Peter Johnston
Peter Johnston was born and bred in Broken Hill and has lived there all his life, outside of six months when he worked in Melbourne. He’s married, has two adult two kids and now, at 69 years young, he is still making a massive contribution to local sport in his town.
An accountant by trade, Johnston has been associated with the mines in Broken Hill all his working life.
He was born into cricket too, with his father Lionel a prominent bush cricketer who played for NSW Country. Peter can remember going to cricket games on a Saturday from age 5.
Johnston also played cricket himself for 46 years and had his last game when he was 63.
He’s been a volunteer for more than 50 years and filled pretty much every volunteer role a community sporting club (or clubs) need.
Simply, Peter Johnston is living proof that not all heroes where capes – or wear the Baggy Green.
Peter Johnston on Volunteering:
Volunteering is a hereditary thing in my family. My father, who has now passed on, and I pretty much have sport in Broken Hill pretty much covered, where my father was associated with the local AFL for 50 years and myself with cricket for over five decades.
The medal that is awarded to the best and fairest player in the Broken Hill’s men’s competition is named in his honour, the Lionel Johnston Medal.
My daughter is continuing the family tradition of giving back to sport, where she is secretary of the Henley Hawks Tennis Club in Adelaide, and they were voted the number one club in the country last year.
I’m in my 53rd year as an Executive of Barrier District Cricket League. In the earlier years, I was a delegate of the District Cricket Club and I’m still associated. I’ve been secretary of South Broken Cricket Club for forty years and now I’m in my 40th year as chairman of Barrier District Cricket League.
I’m a great advocate for sport not just cricket but all sports. Sport is a great character builder for young people and teaches you many life lessons.
A real challenge for the growth of sport are the other temptations that are pulling younger participants away from playing sport. I would love to see the return of more organised sporting competitions within our local primary schools which would exposure them to cricket and encourage more to play junior cricket.
Kids that grow up in sporting families are likely to play sport but for those children who aren’t, they need to be introduced to cricket some other way and having more school-based programs would certainly support the growth of cricket in a remote town like Broken Hill.
Another challenge facing community sport is growing the volunteer base. These days both parents in the household are working, so of an evening and at the weekend they want to relax and do other things with their time.
You do get plenty of self-satisfaction from volunteering, such as seeing my vision of a women’s cricket competition come to fruition and being able to deliver outstanding facilities for our local community to use from our work with multiple government agencies and stakeholders.
As a father of two daughters, there was never an opportunity for them to play the sport when they were growing up, so I hope one of my legacies is leaving a pathway for girls and women in Broken Hill to pursue their cricketing aspirations.
Peter Johnston on women’s cricket:
Women’s cricket has been a real success story for Broken Hill. Broken Hill was one of the first areas of Australia to have a women’s AFL competition and I actually saw that as an opportunity to tap into the football club’s and get a women’s cricket competition up and running during the summer months.
We got in touch with the four football clubs and said we are starting up a women’s cricket competition, and we now are now in our third year of this competition, and it goes from strength to strength.
When we started off the competition, we started with modified rules, similar to indoor cricket rules so everyone got equal opportunities to bat and bowl, which introduced the girls to the basics of cricket.
We have now got to the stage where we have transferred this (competition) over to a Twenty 20 competition.
We have seen this become a real social competition, where the partners and families of the players come down to not only support the teams.
We are finding that without the growth of women’s cricket, that sporting clubs in Broken Hill won’t survive. They are more passionate than the men, there are more (volunteer) workers amongst them than what there is the guys, and that’s been the making of the local football and cricket clubs.
My next challenge is to get a girl’s cricket competition up and running with the local schools, which will encourage cricket participation and complete the local pathway.