In 2018 Wollongong’s Bruce Jones retired from cricket coaching after 54 years.
But at the start of 2019 his fundamental role in developing grassroots cricket has not gone unnoticed.
Mr Jones has been nominated for Cricket Australia’s Community Champion Award.
The initiative aims to uncover incredible stories of cricket at the regional level that deserve to be told because of the way they have helped make the sport a great game for all.
Mr Jones is being recognised for a lifelong dedication to increasing opportunities for rural Australian communities.
He was nominated in late 2018 for may contributions including playing an instrumental role in setting up the Illawarra Academy of Sport Cricket Program as part of the first regional academy in Australia.
As well as being involved in the increase of female involvement in the sport.
When he heard about the news Mr Jones said it was a nice surprise.
“You don’t do it for recognition or that sort of thing. You just do it,” he said.
As part of the nomination a case study was prepared about his life. It describes Mr Jones as a man who spent more than half a century inspiring young people to play cricket. And documents how he saw the change begin in his early days at the Illawarra Sporting Academy.
He said it its introduction instigated enough interest to field a full all-girls side that went on tour.
“Within a couple of years of the academy, I started to notice a few girls were interested and we were able to put together a team that was quite successful and even toured New Zealand a few times,” he said.
The nomination notes how Mr Jones overcame many battles away from cricket, including open heart surgery and prostate cancer. And how nothing off the field deterred his love and commitment to the sport.
Cricket Australia’s nomination recognises Mr Jones for being dedicated to a lifetime of increasing opportunities for rural Australian communities, both on and off the field. It acknowledges his efforts for playing a fundamental role in developing grassroots cricket to be the sport it is today.
And his many other contributions that have included working in the early stages of the founding of the Fred Hollows Foundation to sponsoring children in developing countries.