Blacktown welcomed international cricketers to the City last week as the Australian-based Philippines cricket team came to town for a 3-day training camp at Joe McAleer Oval.
The training camp is an important part of the team’s preparation for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, that they hope will take them through to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2022.
Getting the Filipino team together to train has been difficult over the past 12 months due to the COVID pandemic, with many of the Australian-based Filipino players not able to train and play as usual.
Mayor of Blacktown City, Councillor Tony Bleasdale OAM said: “It’s wonderful to be able to welcome these athletes and offer our first-class cricket facilities for training. We have a large, wonderful Filipino community in Blacktown City, so there is no better place this team could have come.
“These athletes, like many others, have had to overcome many obstacles due to COVID with competition schedules and training sessions up in the air following lockdowns, restrictions and travel bans. I hope they enjoyed their time in Blacktown and I would like to wish them the best of luck as they look to qualify for the World Cup. We hope to see them again soon.”
Filipino captain, Jonathan Hill commented: “Very often training is left up to the individual as it’s quite difficult with half of the squad based in the Philippines and the rest spread across Australia.
“The ICC T20 World Cup is a big deal for the Filipino cricket team. Hopefully we have a good chance to progress to the next round of the World Cup.
“Basketball is the main sport in the Philippines, but for many years 2 expats based in Manilla – Ian Sinclair and Faisal Khan – have poured so much passion and time into the development of cricket. The Filipino Cricket Association (FCA) is in a position now where they can go around to the different schools and run workshops – which is great!” said Jonathan.
Vice-Captain Daniel Smith spoke about the honour of being able to play at Joe McAleer Oval: “We were so excited to be able to train on the same field that the NSW cricket team do their pre-season training on and it was actually the first time that the team have trained on turf!
Another important part of coming to Blacktown City for the team was to unearth Filipino Australians who are skilled in cricket and to spread the message about the sport throughout the schools. The team currently have thousands of children back in the Philippines learning cricket for the first time.
Jonathan and Daniel said the squad were over the moon to be training in Blacktown at a facility that is such high quality and hope to be back again one day.