Three generations step up to crease in WA Indigenous-run cricket academy

Posted December 17, 2016 16:06:02

A cricket academy in a country Western Australian town, inspired by a legendary Aboriginal league. is proving a hit on and off the field and is set to expand.

Ten years ago Mark "Shadow" Davis began the now family-run Avon West Cricket Academy in the town of Northam, about 100kms east of Perth, using the sport to reach out to local children.

"For Aboriginal children it was quite difficult because you never had many mates that played cricket, so it was difficult to get into that makeup," Shadow said.

"So we thought we'd start from the ground roots and work with that, and it's prospered from there."

Davis said while AFL is often the most popular sport among Aboriginal children, he knew cricket would be a hit.

"When I was a kid I always used to say 'there's a game of cricket on in my backyard'," he said.

"And these kids would come crawling out of the woodwork, climbing over the fence.

"It was amazing, before you knew it you had 20 to 30 kids there lined up ready to play."

'Invincibles' spirit lives on

He said the academy, which has won six premiership titles, was inspired by The Invincibles, an unbeatable Indigenous team from New Norcia back in the late 19th century.

Shadow said the rules of cricket were teaching invaluable lessons to those at the academy.

"That magic finger — once that finger goes up — you're out," he said of the umpire's call.

"The kids walk off the ground, not say a word.

"They get here and they'll ask myself or someone, 'what did I do wrong?' — they don't sit there and argue.

"But in Aussie rules football they argue the point, it's undisciplined."

Shadow's son, Jermaine "Bomber" Davis has been the academy's coordinator for the past four years, and has also noted a positive spin-off in many children's lives.

"The boys are a lot better," Bomber said.

"Attending school more and a lot more professional and respectful around the community, which is what we want."

Johnny Edmonds, 12, said being part of the academy was very important to him.

"We get breakfast and then we're just out there, playing for the day," he said.

"The best part is playing but then there's also the volunteering and doing stuff for the academy."

Grandson carries bat in family-run academy

Bomber's own son, Jermaine "Jnr" Davis has also joined the academy.

"He's probably a role model to these younger boys to look up to, [to] follow that cricket path way," Bomber said.

Jermaine Jnr said he took the responsibility of mentoring the younger players very seriously.

"I love cricket, it's the best thing — other than footy," he said.

"I hope that by being here I can teach them some of my skills and hope that they get better by using them, and see that they have an opportunity with it.

"Feels good knowing that they'll probably pass it down to me when it's my turn to run the academy."

There are now than more than 70 children involved but the family hope to boost that number to 250.

Bomber said they were now looking to form a girls' competition, and also expand to Balladong country — around Quairading and Kellerberrin in the state's Wheatbelt.

And Shadow has his sights set on the big league.

"When I started the game it was just backyard cricket," he said.

"Now these kids got the opportunity to play at a higher level and one of our main aims is to get one of these children through to play cricket at the WACA.

"That's an Aboriginal child from within WA.

"None that I know of have done it so we're hoping this academy produces one of these kids through that, especially through the discipline of it all."

Topics:cricket, sport, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, community-and-society, northam-6401, wa

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