Royal Australian Navy cricketers have embraced the chance to engage with community and reinforced a diversity and inclusion message with a T20 match against a local team in Melbourne.
Sunshine Heights Cricket Club (SHCC) is a melting pot of Australians from diverse ethnic backgrounds, living in a community that it likewise reflects. For more than 65 years, the cricket club has ensured that it is inclusive of all members of the local community while opening its arms to visitors.
And so it proved, with Navy cricket invited to compete through a common contact, with cultural and religious differences made irrelevant as cricketers came together in competition.
President of SHCC, Nick Hatzoglou said the event heralded the progress the club has made over the years within the diversity and inclusion space.
“To have such an iconic, well-respected organisation such as the Royal Australian Navy come out to our home at Ainsworth Reserve in Brimbank will resonate with our community for a long time.
“We look forward to building on the activities and success of this first event over subsequent years and know the Brimbank City Council will support us as demonstrated by the attendance of the Mayor, five Councillors, Navy members and a representative from Cricket Australia.”
Three hours before game time, the lamb on the spit (coated in secret herbs and spices) had commenced its revolutions above red-hot charcoal, producing a familiar alluring scent recognised by many.
At game time, all present lined up for Australia’s national anthem - players, uniformed members and community, side by side.
In a highly competitive game, the hosts came out on top to win the inaugural Navy Canteens Lewis/Nizam Intercultural T20 Shield.
Umpires Joe Polzella and Kevin Glassenbury later reported that the on-field behaviour of both teams was exemplary and the game was played in a wonderful spirit.
In the end, the result of the game was almost immaterial. Both parties were beneficiaries, recognising the significant role they had played in promoting social cohesion in the community.
Navy’s Intercultural Advisor, Chief Petty Officer Zulkarnain Naim said community engagement events were important to Navy and ADF in building a greater awareness in our intercultural communities.
“Not only does it bring us closer together with the communities we aim to protect, but more importantly, it provides an increased exposure for our sailors and officers, especially from intercultural backgrounds, to reinforce that Navy career pathways is for everyone in the community.”
In all, the day was a tremendous success. As the teams and community mingled effortlessly after the formalities had ceased, those of us involved in the event, re-affirmed our commitment to grass-roots community engagement - and commenced plotting the re-take of the Lewis-Nizam Shield in 2020.