Jason Sangha still remembers his excitement when NSW cricketers visited his school as a teenager.
Now a Cricket NSW contracted player, Sangha was able to inspire that same excitement in the next group of junior cricketers when he visited a number of Illawarra schools alongside NSW women’s player Naomi Stalenberg.
“It was about four years ago, I remember Benny Rohrer and Harry Conway coming up to with Country Blitz to my school and I remember Benny Rohrer signing my bat and signing a few other things,” Sangha said. “As a kid, when you had professional athletes coming to your school, they were always going to be my idols.
“Any type of players that are in the professional environment when they come and visit kids, they try and bring some inspiration. I’m sure, hopefully myself and Naomi will put some smiles on the kids faces and hopefully help them enjoy the game of cricket.”
Billed as Australia's next cricketing superstar, 18-year-old Sangha has been in the spotlight for much of his teenage years.
In that time, he has learnt a lot about the sport. The number one message he gave to the kids? Have fun.
“It’s about enjoyment, for me, I’ll always enjoy playing cricket because I was playing with 10 other mates and when you’re playing with all your other friends, cricket was such a skillful game, there’s just nothing like it. For me, I’ve always wanted to keep enjoying the game of cricket, especially for kids coming through the ages now, you’ve just got to have fun.”
With the surge in popularity of women’s cricket, young girls now have the opportunity to look up to female stars, including Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy, and Stalenberg said she’s noticed an increase in the number of girls wanting to play cricket.
“There’s definitely more girls in the game now,” Stalenberg said. “There’s more girls wanting to play at a higher level and there’s a lot more funding in the game now and the quality of coaching and facilities have definitely lifted as well and that’s been a big difference.”