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Eye on the ball


For many children growing up in Australia, summer holidays were set to a backdrop of cricket matches on the television or the ‘thwack’ of a bat against ball during a game of backyard cricket.

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Some youngsters, however, don’t get the chance to learn how to play the sport and teacher Josh Niederer wants to change that.

Josh once dreamed of playing professional cricket but found his happy place instead in sports education.

“I was always interested in either being a PE teacher or working in sports science,” he said. “Through volunteering for our inclusive cricket programs when I was in high school, I discovered a passion for coaching and teaching.”

The 23 year old is now the Health and Physical Education teacher and sports coordinator at Emmaus Catholic Primary School, Woodcroft. He is also the Inclusive Programs director at Reynella Cricket Club.

For his efforts, he was recently named Cricket Australia’s Young Leader of the Year.

Reynella runs an All-Abilities cricket program and has a team in the Adelaide Inclusive Cricket League. The All-Abilities program was set-up when his young brother, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, expressed a desire to join him on the field.

Josh works tirelessly to raise awareness of the program, liaise with players, parents and carers to make sure all participants are supported.

“Receiving this award was a great honour,” he said.

“It has widened the reach of our inclusive programs at the Reynella Cricket Club. I have spoken to a lot of people who did not know about our programs before I received this award. I hope this will lead to more people with a disability joining our programs and giving cricket a go.”

He loves teaching a range of sports at Emmaus: “Teaching sporting skills and important social skills to students and hopefully build a positive relationship with movement and physical activity. It is really rewarding to watch the students I teach enjoying themselves, challenging themselves and learning lots about a range of sports.”

Josh believes a great leader is selfless and does things to benefit other people.

“I also think a great leader can show great empathy and understanding for the people they are helping or leading, as well as having passion for the job or role they are doing.”

His future is bright.

“At the moment I am trying to learn and set myself up as a young teacher. In terms of our inclusive cricket programs, I would like to continue to consolidate our programs and increase participation for people of all ages who have a disability.”

Josh’s advice for young people interested in giving cricket a go is to have fun.

“It’s easy when playing a game like cricket to forget about the fun side of the game. I think it’s important to have fun and enjoy playing the game.”

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