Imagine being 15 again.
You and your friend are passionate cricket lovers and teammates. You want to raise money and awareness for the McGrath Foundation and NSW Blind Cricket, so together you lead the organisation of a fundraising day to mark the opening of your school’s new cricket nets.
And raise more than $2,500.
Introducing Pennant Hills High School students Aliya Colburt and Elysa Oliveri.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls. They came to me with an idea, and I said, ‘it sounds like a good idea girls’ and they then went away and really did some outstanding project management from inception to completion,” Pennant Hills High School Principal, Ross Warren said.
The Year 10 students not only organised the fundraising day in late May, but also dignitaries including Sydney Thunder allrounder Chris Green, and activities to educate their fellow students of what elite cricket looked like for those who are vision impaired.
More than two months of hard work paid off.
The combination of a mufti day, BBQ, and ‘bake’ sale raised $2,544.10 divided equally between the McGrath Foundation and NSW Blind Cricket.
Joining Chris Green were Local Member for Hornsby, Matt Kean, and Paralympic hopeful and Blind Cricketer Oscar Stubbs with his dad, Jason Stubbs, Head Coach of the state’s Blind team.
To raise awareness about what is involved in playing Blind Cricket, the girls organised a lunchtime ‘blind cricket competition’, open to all students, for who could hit the ball the furthest whilst wearing the specially designed ‘cloudy’ glasses.
“We got to express our love for cricket and how it is a sport for all,” Elysa said.
“It made me feel happy people wanted to come out and enjoy the day,” Aliya said.
“It was nice to see people, both who love cricket and those who have never ever played come out and learn.”
Aliya and Elysa play cricket together for the West Pennant Hills Cherrybrook Cricket Club.
The idea for the fundraiser first came about when the teenagers attended a NSW Blind Cricket Exhibition match at Mark Taylor Oval, Waitara, in February.
“We saw what they were able to do and were so incredibly lucky to be given that opportunity but knew lots of people will never be given that opportunity,” Aliya said.
“When we went back to school, we thought about doing this idea and then it grew and grew and became lots of ideas and the final piece was how it ended up.”
The girls developed a proposal, and presented before the school’s P&C, their principal and other executive staff and it progressed from there.
“(I acquired) a lot of new skills, especially leadership skills, lots of organisation and public speaking for sure,” Elysa said.
“On the day, it felt nice that it finally came together,” Aliya said.
“It was bit of a rush that morning to get lots of things done, but it felt really good once everyone had arrived and were all there together, taking photos, giving the speech, it was really nice.”
It is not the first time the girls have demonstrated their service to cricket. They have also assisted Cricket Manager Daniel Anderson with the Sixers Social Women’s Cricket program in the North Shore.
What made the fundraising day so special for the girls is what brings so many together through cricket.
“We both shared the same passion for cricket, and we shared the same experience together at the Blind Cricket exhibition match,” said Elysa.
“Our passions are the same and it was great to do it with a friend.”