Air Force donation changes game


Air Force cricketers learnt that even a small gesture can change lives, after the donation of four custom-made stumps to Blind Cricket NSW.

NSW Blind Sports and Recreation General Manager Jason Stubbs and his son Oscar – a blind-cricket national player – accepted the stumps during the Air Force training and development camp at the Cricket Centre of Excellence, NSW, on November 16.

It took just one week for 37 Squadron aircraft structural technicians to make two pairs of blind-cricket internationally approved stumps.

The impact could last a lifetime for some, with Mr Stubbs saying the new kit would allow more people to experience the game.

“We’ve just got a new bloke who lost his sight 10 years ago, he hadn’t played any sport before he found us,” Mr Stubbs said.

“We’re taking the stumps for a game in his hometown – his mum told me he’s full of life again.”

The stumps aren’t commercially available at this time and each must be handmade.

Previously, Blind Cricket NSW used steel plates duct-taped to metal stumps, which made travelling difficult.

The new aluminium stumps are lighter and a complete piece.

Loose metal rings sit on a perpendicular bar around shin height. The rings clatter when the stumps are hit, either by the ball or the wicket keeper, who can also rattle the stumps at any time to give players their bearings.

A 37 Squadron logo is emblazoned across the top and ‘made by RAAF 37 Squadron Aircraft Structures’ is printed across the base.

A message is also embossed in braille just underneath.

Leading Aircraftman Paul Supernak welded the stumps and was grateful to use his expertise to help others.

“There were some challenges keeping the project under budget, but it was a small thing for us to do compared to the big impact it’s going to have for people who want to get involved in the sport,” Leading Aircraftman Supernak said.

The idea came about last year when players put on blindfolds for an impromptu session with Blind Cricket NSW during their annual training camp.

Men’s coach Sergeant Ricky Mace said it was a first for some of the players, but for the 37 Squadron team leader there was a personal connection – he was diagnosed with cataracts and underwent surgery this year.

When the opportunity to help Blind Cricket NSW presented itself, he was sure his team could smash it for six.

He hoped this would be the first of many opportunities for Air Force to raise the profile of the sport in Defence.

“I want our teams to get involved with Indigenous cricket, blind cricket and travel to different communities,” Sergeant Mace said.

“We will get better as a team and hopefully help people too.”

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