A real success story is unfolding at Bairds Mainfreight Primary School in Otara, South Auckland with the help of Papatoetoe CC.
Only a few years ago BMPS played in an inter-school cricket tournament and were soundly beaten by every other school and at this stage Deputy Principal Fiona McAree had seen enough.
"Fiona decided we needed to work harder at the game," said Stuart Reddrop, the head of health and P.E. at the school.
"She brought in coaches to work with the kids and immediately saw improvement. The players did so well that four of them were given a scholarship to play for Papatoetoe."
Reddrop began working at the school 18 months ago and inherited a talented group of players, but that isn't the whole story according to Papatoetoe and BMPS coach Gary Wood.
"It is a tough school in the lowest decile and we decided to get involved to help out the kids. We have a 'carrot' scheme in place and if they don't behave they won't be playing cricket," Wood said.
Wood was impressed with the raw talent he saw when he first entered the school and began offering coaching sessions on a Friday afternoon. After a while the sessions became so popular that they were able to raise a Saturday morning team made up almost entirely of players from the school.
Reddrop enjoyed seeing the kids competing against players from all over Auckland and he wanted to take things a step further.
"It was great to watch kids from South Auckland competing against the likes of Cornwall and really enjoying themselves. We arranged a meeting with Adrian Dale from Auckland Cricket and as a result managed to get funding through Papatoetoe CC for an artificial pitch to be installed at the school," Reddrop said.
Saturday March 3rd was earmarked as the first home game on the new pitch but unfortunately this historical event couldn't overcome the final obstacle - the weather bomb:
"The first home game didn't happen because of the weather on Friday night/Saturday morning but with so many kids playing cricket every weekend from BMPS it is just a matter of time."
While Reddrop is now heavily involved he believes that McAree and Wood along with Papatoetoe CC deserve all the credit for the schools success.
"It was Fiona`s initiative to get the ball rolling and without Gary and Papatoetoe CC none of this would have been possible. It was Gary's drive, enthusiasm and determination that has made the training, the team and the pitch happen. The kids just love their cricket and with Gary and Papatoetoe`s support they are no longer priced out of playing in terms of membership and buying equipment."
Only three years ago cricket had barely been heard of at BMPS, now they have their own team, their own pitch and Reddrop believes the sky is the limit.
"We think we have some real talent here and hope that one day we can produce a future BLACKCAP or White Fern."
This article is originally a product of www.aucklandcricket.co.nz.