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Rainbows and Smiles from Primarty Club donations

By Ron Bowden, Management Committee and Chair of the Charity Sub-Committee

We have often described that our mission at the Primary Club of Australia is to provide people with a disability the chance to experience the joy and exhilaration that exercise and playing sport can bring.  With exercise we improve communication, tolerance, patience, agility and teamwork – whether disabled or not!

Through these challenging times, our charity work kicks on regardless.  No doubt, many of our charity partners have and are being impacted by recent events – bushfires, drought, and now the COVID-19 epidemic.  While in some cases this mean halting their operations for some weeks or months, in most cases, it is a chance to take stock of who are they serving, how effectively and what they will need in the future.  We trust that we can help with this process.

Recently our Management Committee approved in principle four projects totaling $54k, recommended by our Charity Sub-Committee after much deliberation.  These included facilities for two Riding for Disabled branches in southern NSW, kits for Dream Cricket around the State and flotation devices for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Victoria.  These funds will be held in trust until our partners recommence regular activities.

Rainbow Clubs

Earlier in the 2019/20 year, we approved another project being $11k for swim training aids for 26 branches of the Rainbow Club, a network of social swimming clubs for children with a disability providing individualised swimming lessons catered to their needs.  Branches include regional clubs in Orange, Tamworth, Southern Highlands and Byron Bay.

Catriona Raymond, General Manager, explains: “As we had to close Rainbow Club (temporarily) a few weeks ago, we have taken the opportunity to do some online training with our teachers.  This past weekend we focused on the visual aids and how to use and incorporate them into lessons.  There was fantastic interest and I am quite sure we will see them in even greater use when we resume.  I do hope that will be sooner rather than later as the teachers are super keen to put their new knowledge into practice.  I would like to sincerely thank the Primary Club for making these visual aids a reality!”

Our very first Sir Roden Cutler Awardee, blind marathon swimmer James Pittar, became the first Ambassador for the Rainbow Club in 2001, a very appropriate connection between our two organisations.

Books for Uganda

Now for some more smiles…. But on the other side of the planet!

Many members who attend our Sydney Test Breakfast will know that each year we collect used cricket books and send them overseas to a developing country to complement their teaching of cricket to disadvantaged youngsters.  We have been doing this for over 25 years, with exports to South Africa (Soweto), Sri Lanka and Uganda.

Brian Freedman, from the Bankstown District Cricket Club, reports as follows: “By their continued donation of cricket books the Primary Club has added a new dimension to Bankstown DCC’s project to collect and ship unwanted cricket gear and clothing to the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) for distribution to clubs and schools throughout their country. When chairman Bashir Badu and CEO Martin Ondeko were in Australia recently, they explained their major focus has been to set up a library to give the widest possible audience to the books.  When they receive multiple copies of the same book, they donate these to schools to be used as prizes for scholastic and sporting achievement.

"Having access to equipment, clothing and books has seen participation in cricket from under 10,000 when the first container arrived in 2006 to in excess of 60,000 today.

“Bankstown Sports Club has been a major contributor to the scheme by covering the shipping cost of the thirteen containers to date. Being a land locked country, shipping to Uganda is very expensive with costs being up to $14,800 for a 40ft container.”

We congratulate Brian and his team at the Bankstown Cricket and Sports Clubs, and we look forward to working with him again and again in seasons ahead.

Blind Cricket

Since inception some 45 years ago, the Primary Club has been a regular supporter of Blind Cricket around the country, most recently agreeing to fund a marquee for the NSW team to set up at their various games during the season.  In recent Sydney summers, they have hosted us for a game at their home ground, the Graham Thomas Oval next door to Bankstown Oval.

On Sunday 1st March, our team included a couple of players from Commonwealth Bank – Vipul Balsara and Shirin Shah – who opened the batting for us, following NSW Blind XI’s challenging run target of 143 off 20 overs (Fitzpatrick 31 and Stubbs 30). 

Vipul and Shirin looked promising with 27 off the first 4 overs, but tight bowling from Stubbs and Felten slowed our run rate, and our inexperience facing the bobbling ball started to take its toll.  We ended up 8 runs short. 

Umpire Arthur Watson (over 700 grade cricket matches) presented his Player of the Match Trophy to Brad Carriage from Tamworth, a relative newcomer to blind cricket but already showing great promise since his selection for the state side.

Disabled Winter Sports

Back in 2018, we approved a grant to Disabled Wintersports Australia to acquire some Bluetooth headsets for Visually Impaired (VI) skiers.

National Operations Manager of DWA, Andrew Lee, writes: “DWA is an organisation that provides the opportunity for Australians with a disability the opportunity to find their freedom on snow.  One of the most technical versions of adaptive snow sports is done by visually impaired athletes, who communicate with another skier who guides them down the hill.  DWA was given the opportunity to help develop VI skiing in Australia through the generous donation of five Bluetooth Headsets from the Primary Club.  Using this equipment VI athletes can quickly and clearly talk with their guide allowing them to race down the hill at speeds over 100km/h. Through this donation, DWA and the Primary Club will help provide the first steps for the next generation of VI skiers, snowboarders and maybe even Paralympians.”

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The fundamental aim is to give people with disabilities the opportunity to experience the joy and exhilaration that comes from any form of physical activity.

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