The Adelaide University Cricket Club has found a way to engage players who can’t commit to trainings and matches, through a new initiative called Rock Up Cricket. The idea came about when the University realised they had plenty of students from international backgrounds who love cricket, but competing priorities meant they were unable to play on a regular basis.

Adelaide University Sport & Fitness Cricket Operations Coordinator Ben Hilliard, spoke about how the program has been designed to engage students in a more social setting with trainings and playing T20 matches, giving participants the flexibility to juggle their studies with playing cricket.

What barriers did you come across in implementing this idea?

One barrier was the expense of cricket equipment - bats, pads, gloves etc. Most of the students who participate work part-time, so it was a big ask financially for those involved to buy equipment. As a result, the #payitback campaign was introduced so club members who’ve outgrown their gear or retired, could donate used cricket gear to those who aren’t able to afford it. There is now plenty of stock to choose from.

What has been the reaction from club members and the broader community?

SACA has put in place the T20 competition which was really important for people to be able to play. They get out there in summer on Sundays at West Beach and you can see there’s lots of passion for cricket.

The Rock Up Cricket coach is keen for a crossover between the traditional cricket teams and Rock Up Cricket program, so two more experienced players within the traditional teams can play or train with the newer members each session. All the feedback we have received has been positive. There has been an improvement in the skills of players and some have now been selected in traditional Saturday teams too.

Do you think this initiative could be easily picked up by other clubs and in different sports?

It would be possible for any other club to implement something similar – it’s just a matter of putting it together and offering a social component.

Is there a next step/are you looking to grow this further?

The next step is to grow with more players, with the aim to attract two teams (currently, there is only one team). There are over 100 players that have participated over the last five years.

Has this supported an increase in members/volunteers/revenue?

Rock Up Cricket has resulted in more members and more revenue. There has been an increase in the number of student members which the club has a target for each year. We’ve also seen that this program has a higher percentage of student members than traditional cricket.

The University also has a volunteering program that enables students to earn a commendation on their transcript if they reach a certain amount of volunteer hours. As a result of this, two students with disabilities who love cricket, have engaged in volunteering for the cricket club taking on 1st and 2nd grade men’s scoring roles. They love being part of the culture and team, social events and have been terrific members of the club.