Multicultural and indigenous players will be among the targets of the new community engagement manager, Sam Amaliki, who experienced an unusual introduction to the game.
Luke Waters reports.
Sam Amaliki embarks on day one of what he describes as the job of a lifetime.
“I love the game as much as anything in my life because it’s been central in my life and I’m incredibly passionate about it because I know it’s a force for good.”
Colleagues at Cricket Australia offered a warm welcome but their paths to cricket headquarters could hardly be more different.
Sam Amaliki left war-torn Iraq as an 8-year old and was introduced to the game as a child while in immigration detention.
“It was at Villawood that I saw cricket being played by Tamil detainees and from there took a loving for the game.”
At just 15, he set up a winter cricket competition in Sydney and says he’s now ready for his next challenge.
“Through this role I’ll be able to ensure we engage more female, Indigenous, multicultural and all-ability cricketers and ensure their dreams come true.”
And recent results are encouraging.
Afghan asylum-seeker Fawad Ahmed last week joined the Australia-A team in England.
Gurinder Sandhu, of Indian heritage, is showing promise for New South Wales.
Nick Hatzoglou presides over the multicultural Sunshine Heights Cricket Club in Melbourne’s west.
The club boasts almost 40 ethnicities including Australia’s first Sudanese-born senior turf cricketer.
Mr Hatzoglou says cricket has been slow to embrace the multicultural market but applauds the new position.
“If you’re going to remain to be the most popular sport in Australia you need to have a conversation with the rest of Australia.”
And the proof – partially, at least – will be in the “baggy greens” of the future.
“For example more Singhs in our national team, more Chins, would certainly see that dream come true in terms of engaging all Australians.”