MILO T20 BLAST: Sam Curtis hopes to bring the successful Twenty20 format to juniors in the Burnett.
MILO T20 BLAST: Sam Curtis hopes to bring the successful Twenty20 format to juniors in the Burnett. Mike Richards GLA260816JCRK

Junior program to boost participation

INCOMING Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regional development manager Sam Curtis hopes the upcoming regional tour of the Burnett will provide a much-needed boost to junior cricket numbers in the region.

Curtis will join with Wide Bay regional cricket officer Paul Trace on a week-long tour of the Burnett, starting in Kingaroy on February 27 and culminating in a coaches' workshop in Gayndah on Wednesday, March 1.

The pair will visit nine schools in four days, meeting with stakeholders to discuss the best way to promote growth in the sport.

"Our job is to attract and retain cricketers and this trip will be about meeting with key stakeholders and schools to discuss how we implement a program to get entry-level cricket running strong again," Curtis said.

It will be Curtis's first time in the Burnett since his appointment to the role and he hopes productive meetings with the schools and local cricket figureheads will pave the way for a new MILO T20 Blast competition model.

On the back of Big Bash League and Women's Big Bash League successes, the new Cricket Australia junior formats are producing a resurgence in junior cricket that Curtis hopes will extend to the Burnett region.

"Key for us is the entry-level programs we hope to run," Curtis said.

"We want to get a MILO T20 Blast regional school cup off the ground, following on from the model that has been effective so far.

"That would involve Monto, Gayndah, Mundubbera and Biggenden (as well) and is a competition that hasn't officially been run under that model (in the past)."

Junior cricket numbers in the South Burnett have waned in recent years, while in the north towns such as Monto lack competition entirely, an issue Curtis hopes to begin to correct when he hits town.

"Monto recently produced the Australian Country captain, Tony Hampson, and Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire player Courtney Hill," Curtis said.

"The country breeds strong cricketers and we've always got our eye on country talent.

"The trouble is there's not enough cricket being offered, so that's what we're trying (to remedy).

"Queensland Cricket knows for this to be successful the support of local volunteers is also crucial.

"It's not like we can fix all the problems straight away but this will be the start of something.

"It's about providing an enjoyable and quality experience with entry-level programs."

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