The Academy, which has been running since 2006, operates in Northam and is led by local Aboriginal people with a mix of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants and volunteers across five male and female teams.

While the Academy has experienced plenty of on-field success, with six Premierships and numerous players being selected to progress to high performance programs, awarded scholarships and involved in the National Indigenous Cricket Championships, it’s the signification off-field contribution they are making which is having the biggest impact.

Local police have noticed a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the town during the cricket season, which has been attributed to the tireless work of the Ballardong Cricket Academy who are quickly becoming leaders in Aboriginal cricket.

On weekends, Academy volunteers drive a bus around town to pick up all the kids and take them to their games and provide them with breakfast, as many are not fed properly at home, and fresh uniforms. After their games, the kids are so tired from playing cricket they return to their homes which assists in reducing anti-social behaviour in the area.

The Academy are also proactive in identifying role models in the community and wider playing group, who are selected to help mentor younger players on how to play and to encourage them to continue playing.

WACA Game & Market Development General Manager, Jo Davies, said the Academy provided a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of their community, whether they are male or female, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.

“The Academy is directly responsible for hundreds of Aboriginal boys and girls playing community club cricket, with many progressing through the state’s cricket pathway,” Ms Davies said.

“Without this program the local junior cricket association may not be viable, with the provision of consistent teams and participants by the Academy creating accessible opportunities for Aboriginal children to play cricket.

“The WACA is extremely proud of the work being undertaken by the Academy and we are excited to continue to work closely with them to develop a plan for further growth and ensure they have the support they require to build on the impressive foundations they have set.”

The WACA is currently working with the Academy to develop a blueprint for other towns in Western Australia to replicate and encourage others to be inclusive of Aboriginal people.

Perth Scorchers School Ambassador Dan Rodgers was awarded Highly Commended in the 2017-18 Ambassador of the Year category for his work at Deanmore Primary School since 2008.