It may just look like a wooden hut from the outside, but it represents hope and a new home for an eastern Christchurch community.
The New Brighton Cricket Club lost its clubrooms at Rawhiti Domain in an arson attack on August 22, 2015, leaving players without a place to get changed before matches or socialise afterwards, and the community with one less space for hosting events.
But the club’s 150 members – 106 of which are in the junior grades – now have a new building after one member applied to a programme that provides support to grassroots community teams.
It was unveiled on Thursday afternoon at an event attended by Black Caps Matt Henry, Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham and Ish Sodhi. Junior club members were also given a chance to bowl at the cricketing stars.
Programme applicant Callum Reid, who has been a member of the club since the middle of last year, said winning the hut was a “blessing” and would give the community “a bit of hope”.
“You don’t think it’s going to be you when you put your name down. I just can’t believe it.”
He said he entered the competition because he immediately felt like part of a family when he joined the team, and he wanted to make a change for the club.
“We’re a bunch of boys having fun and the kids want to have fun, and it would just be nice to have our families there and have somewhere to gather and just enjoy a bit of time together.”
Club captain Brett Williamson, who took on the role the day after the clubrooms burnt down, said it had been a trying time for the community.
The junior club membership was “flourishing”, but they had lost two or three senior sides as it was “more about the social aspect” for them.
The new hut would give members shelter from the weather and a place to socialise in. It would also create a pathway for bringing some younger talent into the club.
“It’s a stepping stone for us to be a bigger part of the eastern community,” Williamson said.
Club president Wade Burrell said having the facility was a huge deal, as it gave the club a place it could call home.
Between the fire and the earthquakes, the area had been “decimated”.
“The clubrooms were used as more than just a cricket club, it was used as a hall for people to celebrate milestones, so to lose it, especially the way we did, was devastating.”
Burrell said Reid got off to an interesting start with the club – he turned up to his first training session in jeans and dress shoes – but had since impressed with his enthusiasm.
“People like him are invaluable to any club.”
The hut was donated by the ANZ Top of Your Game programme.
The Black Caps will face England at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday for the decider in the five-game series of one-day internationals. Tickets are sold out.
The Kiwi side won the last game in Dunedin on Wednesday after a huge effort from batsman Ross Taylor, who clocked up 181 runs off 147 balls.
Henry said the team was “coming off a bit of a high” after its last performance, and having the series on the line made for an exciting time.
“It’s why we play cricket so its fantastic to have the opportunity.”
Article courtesy of Michael Hayward – Stuff.