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Sideline Sid has a long-held belief that to produce world class sportsmen or women, there needs to be a very strong base foundation.

In recent decades, Bay of Plenty Cricket has produced a number of home grown Black Caps who have performed with outstanding success on the international stage.

The first to emerge were Mathew and Robbie Hart, who both played for New Zealand after progressing through the ranks of Te Puke junior cricket and the Bay of Plenty age group program.

Daniel Flynn, Graeme Aldridge and the prodigiously talented pair of Trent Boult and superstar skipper Kane Williamson, continued the Bay of Plenty influence on the international game.

Anna Peterson led the way as a flag bearer for the regions women's players with White Ferns selection in 2012.

For the past two decades, Bay of Plenty Cricket have taken the great game into the schoolyards of the region, to cement and grow the local age-group base.

There is no better example of the success of the school based introduction program, than the Western Bay of Plenty, where Bay Cricket and Western Bay Cricket have entered a partnership to deliver the WBOP Cricket Awareness Program.

During term three, several Western Bay of Plenty cricket tutors deliver 40 minute introductory sessions, which this year will see some 5500 Year one to Year four school pupils at 42 Western Bay Schools receive a taster of the great game.

While new school entrants can prove a sporting challenge, the local qualified cricket mentors quickly grab the newbies attention with a variety of fun cricket activities.

The youngsters engage in such as the birds nest style of catching a ball, becoming a teapot to throw the ball, the rudiments of holding a bat and simple running between the wickets.

The basic skills are increased for the older age-groups with a incremental approach to the program delivery.

The BOPCA Cricket Awareness Program is built upon twin foundations of having no cost to the participating schools and creating a fun environment, where the youngsters are eager to take part in the introductory program.

Western Bay of Plenty Cricket backup the introductory schools program, by promoting and delivering a very successful New Zealand Cricket introductory program.

Superstars Cricket is an inclusive made-for-age game for five to ten year olds. It creates an action-packed fun atmosphere in a non-competitive framework, where each youngster get the opportunity to bat, bowl and field in each encounter.

Local junior cricket clubs are already gearing up for Superstars Cricket, with the Te Puke, Papamoa, Mount Maunganui, Greerton and Otumoetai Cadets kicking-off their introductory programs in October.

There is also a Superstars base established at Fergusson Park.

The local Superstars program is run in two eight-week blocks with Superstar participants ready to join Saturday morning junior cricket on graduation.

Googling Bay of Plenty Cricket will give parents the contact numbers of Western Bay junior cricket clubs, which could see their youngsters embrace the great game for a lifetime.

Maybe, as the new cricket season throws off the cloak of winter, another Western Bay of Plenty professional player is taking their first tentative steps in the local cricket awareness program.

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz