Thursday 3 December saw the QE II Oval in Masterton host the inaugural finals day for Back Yard Cricket in the Wairarapa, featuring junior secondary school teams from Makoura and Wairarapa College. The concept of Back Yard Cricket was locally devised to try and alleviate the decline in playing numbers at the junior secondary school level within the district. Funding was found via the Wellington Regional Kiwi Sport Fund, allowing skills sessions and the playing of Back Yard cricket within Wairarapa Schools.
With the funding received, the WCA were able to purchase equipment that allowed them to set up a Back Yard at school, including fences, rubbish bin wickets, and a heap of tennis balls for when they got slammed over the fence. Rules were devised to mimic playing in the backyard, including adding a one hand one bounce catch dismissal, losing runs for getting out, and 6 and out over some of the fences.
In this, the first year of the programme, both Wairarapa College and Makoura College received Cricket skill sessions over October and November. Close to 700 students received technical assistance through PE lessons in throwing, catching, bowling and batting. All students were then able to put these newfound skills into practice via games of Back Yard Cricket within their classes. Each school then nominated a number of teams from PE classes to attend Finals day.
Wairarapa College had 5 teams of 6 players (minimum of 2 girls per team) attend the day, and Makoura 4 teams of 6. 3 round robin games were held, and the top scorers across these qualified to play in a 4 team final. In the end, 10CE from Wairarapa College emerged as champions, with 10RW from Makoura second, after qualifying first for the final.
Looking towards 2016 it is hoped that further Wairarapa Schools will pick up on this concept, and that finals day will be attended by at least four schools. The WCA would like to point out that there were no windows broken playing their version of the game.