The Melbourne Cricket Club Foundation will partner with Cricket Australia in support of Australia’s annual Indigenous cricket tournament, the National Indigenous Cricket Championships (NICC) and Cricket Australia’s national Indigenous men’s and women’s teams.
Under the three-year partnership the MCC Foundation will be an official inclusion partner of the NICC, the annual state and territory tournament which sees Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players compete for national T20 titles.
Bringing together some of the most talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players from across Australia, the NICC will return this February with seven men’s and five women’s teams competing for national titles in Alice Springs.
The MCC will also offer elite-level facility access for Indigenous representative squads as a component of the partnership, with the prestigious Melbourne Cricket Ground to host training camps for First Nations cricketers at games against local opposition.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee co-chair, Gooreng Gooreng man Justin Mohamed, said providing pathways to elite cricket for Indigenous people is a crucial component of Cricket Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
“Increasing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to thrive in elite cricket is an important element of Cricket Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan,” he said.
“I am pleased to see that the partnership between CA and the MCC Foundation will deliver on this.”
The return of the NICC will not be the only opportunity for First Nations cricketers to showcase their skills in an all-Indigenous team next year, with Cricket Australia planning national men’s and women’s teams’ tours of Vanuatu in 2023.
It will be the first meeting between and Australian Indigenous XI and Vanuatu since the two sides met in Brisbane in September of 2019.
Mr Mohamed said the tour will provide an opportunity for more Indigenous cricket history to be created.
“Each will provide the players with a clear pathway to develop their cricket, building on the strong legacy that Aboriginal and Torres Islander people have established within Australia cricket going back to 1868,” he said
Cricket Australia Executive general manager of Community Cricket and Capability James Allsopp said the recent successes of Indigenous players such as Scott Boland and Ash Gardner will encourage the next generation of Indigenous cricketers.
“We are confident the performances of outstanding players such as Ashleigh Gardner and Scott Boland along with the pathways we are creating will inspire more Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders to play our game,” he said.
Mr Allsopp said the support provided by the MCC will give more Indigenous players the opportunity to become professional cricketers in the future.
“We’re excited the MCC has chosen to join us in supporting the National Indigenous Cricket Championships and by providing first class training and playing facilities for Indigenous players.
“We want to give talented Indigenous cricketers the best possible opportunity to fulfill their potential and the experiences made available by the MCC Foundation will be amazing.”
All states and the Northern Territory will field a men’s team at February’s NICC, with New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria also featuring in the women’s division of the tournament.
Melbourne Cricket Club vice-president said the partnership between the MCC and Cricket Australia will strengthen both cultural and cricket connections between NICC players.
“The MCC is delighted to support these championships as it fosters diverse and broader sporting pathways at both community and elite level – the NICC is a true celebration of cricket, culture and connection,” she said.
“This partnership will not only provide greater opportunities in a sporting sense for some of Australia’s most promising and passionate men’s and women’s cricketers from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background but will also help strengthen relationships between these athletes.”