The path to senior cricket has been a remarkable one for a player who started his career in the local disability team.
Shepparton local Jamie Grahame said that playing for Shepparton and Youth Club United Cricket Club allowed him to be treated like a normal person, not like someone with a disability.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a disability or not you are there to have a go at it,” he said.
Mr Grahame, who has an intellectual disability, has progressed from player to coach over the past five years that the All Abilities Harmony Cup has run in Shepparton.
“We play a round robin where teams come from all different places who have intellectual disabilities,” he said.
“You have to work with them, and their achievements and they will get far,” he said.
Mr Grahame said he took on a coaching role this year because he has learnt a lot through playing senior cricket.
“Playing E-grade has given me more of an opportunity to not be scared of the ball and actually face it,” he said.
Mr Grahame said playing E-grade and setting up the grounds had become a normal Saturday ritual for him.
“I try to encourage the other people I know with disabilities to play professional cricket, because they can play,” he said.
“I think sometimes they don’t notice that the club is going to be there to support them all the way,” he said.
“It’s good for the club and it’s good for intellectual disability players.”
Victoria is the top state for cricket participation by people with disabilities, with 8863 people in that category, the 2018/19 cricket census by Cricket Australia showed.
Connect GV CEO Carolynne Frost said sport had been an avenue for Mr Grahame to cope, stay on track and have something to look forward to.
“It provides hope. We underestimate the need to have hope in one’s life and to have things to look forward to, and that’s a really big thing for Jamie,” she said.
“We are so proud of him and how far he has come,” she said.
Ms Frost said the All Abilities Harmony Cup speaks to Connect GV’s vision of being a fully inclusive community.
“It really connects people with mainstream sporting, and that’s something that has been fabulous for Jamie,” she said.