One local hero has been recognised for his selfless dedication to young cricketers in a national competition.
Campbelltown Collegians Cricket Club president Stephen Cantrill was announced as the major winner in the P&O Cruises Homegrown Hero competition.
The competition was run in association with the Big Bash League and during the final on February 4, Mr Cantrill was crowned the homegrown hero.
He was recognised for his establishment of the Campbelltown Collegians All Abilities cricket program.
Mr Cantrill said he felt overwhelmed to win the competition.
He said he volunteered his time to help the children because he loved to see the smiles on their faces when they were out on the cricket pitch.
“The program allows any child aged between 5 and 18 years with any disability to participate,” Mr Cantrill said.
“It was started three years ago and each year it becomes more successful. This year there were 30 participants.
“Often kids with disabilities don’t have an outlet so I came up with the idea with the help of my daughter Alycia. Se is an occupational therapist and manages the program.”
Mr Cantrill, who plays club cricket, believes that “cricket should be for all” in the community.
“I want to provide cricket to everyone,” he said. “Not just those who are lucky enough to be able to hit the ball and bowl without difficulty.
“The program helps provide basic cricket skills and helps the kids learn social skills.
“It is great to see kids that couldn’t hold a bat three years ago not only do that but also hit the ball, run between wickets and bowl.
“The kids have improved so much and it is great when new kids get involved.”
Mr Cantrill said the kids and parents enjoyed the program.
“For the ten weeks, it gives parents a relief for an hour or so,” he said.
“It is great to see the smiles on the faces of the kids when they run around.
“They enjoy themselves, become more interested in cricket, learn some skills and then enjoy watching their heroes play on television.”
The program is run for ten weeks in summer at St Gregory’s College.
Lorraine Grout, whose two children participated in the program, nominated Mr Cantrill for the competition.
During each game in the Big Bash League, 42 finalists from local cricket clubs were recognised as legends.
Mr Cantrill as the major winner received a 10-night P&O Discover Vanuatu cruise and Ms Grout won a three day Comedy Cruise.
Collegians also received $1,000 in cash.
Mr Cantrill said the money would go towards funding the program and would provide facilities and equipment for the coming season.