The program has been designed to help children with autism be included in their local cricket teams.
Program Ambassador Adam Gilchrist said that it was great to support a program that would make cricket even more inclusive and make a difference in the lives of so many children.
“Cricket is about so much more than just the individual – it’s about the satisfaction and joy of being part of a team and belonging,” Gilchrist said.
“Sadly, for the thousands of children living with autism, this is something they have been missing out on or might never know – but the Autism in Cricket program is set to change that.”
WACA CEO Christina Matthews said the initiative was an important step for the WACA to achieve its vision of cricket being a sport for all.
“We’re excited to be a part of this great partnership with Autism WA and I encourage clubs to register as an autism inclusive club,” Ms Matthews said.
“The programs the WACA has developed for people with a disability has already made a huge impact on individuals, and we expect this partnership will be no exception.
“Utilising the experts from the Autism Association of WA will provide a huge support to clubs and coaches that are trying to be reflective of their community.”
CEO of Autism WA, Joan McKenna Kerr said that the program is an exciting venture showcasing the great strengths of children with Autism and the contribution they can make to sport, with the right help.
“We know there can be barriers for kids with Autism when it comes to sport, but we also know how important it is for them to be involved in their local community in a meaningful way. It is not only great for them, it is especially great for the community,” Joan said.
“We are here to help make it as easy as possible for coaches, volunteers, children and their families.
25-year-old Boyd Duffield, who lives with Autism and an Intellectual Disability started playing junior cricket at eight years of age and having the opportunity to be a part of a cricket club was life changing for both him and his family.
Boyd’s mother, Lisa Duffield, said that it has been a rewarding journey but it has not been without its challenges.
“Getting Boyd into cricket early, it has been amazing to watch Boyd grow over the years and have the opportunity to represent our country in his chosen sport,” Lisa said.
“For parents of children with autism, it can be daunting to take the first step to join a cricket club and bad experiences can be off-putting, but knowing there is support and resources in place is really reassuring.
“We have met some wonderful, kind people over many years at several cricket clubs who have enjoyed including Boyd as a cricketer at their Club. Having one-on-one support and a great coach can make all the difference.“
Junior cricket clubs can now register in the Autism in Cricket program online at https://www.autism.org.au/