Popular junior series proving a smash for Ipswich
IF the fun and competitive focus of youngsters in the newly-formed Level 0 competition is any indication, Ipswich Cricket officials have unearthed an instant hit.
It's also a positive boost for the future.
The Northsiders, Thunder, Fassifern, Centrals and Strollers clubs are fielding sides in this season's junior series being developed under the new Cricket Ipswich structure.
Northsiders team manager Karlie Bulow said the youngsters and adults are enjoying the competition promoting participation and preparing kids for higher level games.
"Absolutely. They are loving it at the moment,'' she said.
"It's been really, really good.''
The Level 0 format was introduced to bridge the gap between beginners and juniors wanting to further their cricket development.
"It's only just started this year and it's basically the interim between the Woolworths Cricket Blasters and Level 1, which is an actual game with helmets and gear and pads and all that sort of thing,'' Bulow said.
"They just thought of found that there was a lot of boys that didn't want to do drills anymore and wanted to play a real game that probably weren't up to actually real cricket balls and that sort of stuff.''
The kids have half an hour of training before playing a 10-over a side game under modified rules to give everyone a chance to bat and bowl.
Six kids are on the field for games.
"Drills can only take you so far. It's kind of good to actually play games to really understand it,'' the Northsiders manager said.
The competition has been running for four weeks, played mainly on Friday nights and on some Saturday mornings.
"We play under lights, which is also really exciting as well because the boys love that,'' Bulow said.
Northsiders' most recent game was on Friday night against the Marburg Mt Crosby side at Len Johnson Oval.
Karlie supports the new concept along with her husband and coach Brad, a long-time, loyal Northsiders cricketer and supporter.
Their eight-year-old son Darcy plays in the Level 0 series, enhancing the family enjoyment.
The Bulow family has strong traditions in Ipswich cricket, especially with Northsiders.
Brad's dad Don is a highly respected coach.
Brad's sister Melissa was a former Queensland and Australian player.
Karlie's brother is Ipswich Hornets head coach Aaron Moore.
She said another four weeks of Level 0 competition was planned before officials assess what happens after Christmas.
The juniors learning about the game in Level 0 competition are aged 7-8.
The next Level 1 competition is for kids aged 8-10.
The Level 0 and Level 1 teams play at the same venue.
Bulow said the signs were positive continuing to work with the Level 0 children in short sessions.
"The kids have that little bit of competitiveness about them, which is great,'' Bulow said.
"I think it's probably because our boys are just that little bit younger than the Level 1 boys as well.
"The Level 1 games go to 8.30 on a Friday night.''