For Jaden Dowling, joining North Otago Cricket has been the ‘‘next step’’ in his career.
Dowling (25) started as a summer development officer for the association earlier this month, and will be delivering cricket programmes at schools and taking over as Waitaki Boys’ First XI coach from former development officer Ben Donkers.
Having spent time working as an Otago Cricket community and resource coach, being able to continue to inspire children and up-and-coming athletes was exciting.
‘‘I guess the biggest thing for me is I want to be a role model in the sporting industry. I remember being a kid and seeing sports people coming into school . . . and them being real positive — that got me into things. I wanted to give that to kids as well,’’ Dowling said.
He was already impressed by the natural talent and welcoming nature of the community.
Being a player-coach for Waitaki Boys’ was another drawcard. Dowling had plenty of coaching experience on paper, but looked forward to building his own team.
‘‘I bring my own sort of coaching philosophy and values [but] there’s more to life than cricket and sports. It’s just about becoming better people and better blokes and then eventually the cricket will come.’’
The leg-spin bowler has already impressed in the Borton Cup, but with the bat — Dowling finished 35 not out against Union in the opening round.
Playing in Oamaru was a nice change and the standard was high, he said.
Dowling grew upwatching his father, Ryan, playing cricket and soon followed in his footsteps. They played together for Dunedin’s Brighton club, and made a 100-run partnership, which was ‘‘pretty special’’.
Over the past two years, he played senior cricket for University Grange, alongside North Otago’s Andrew Hore who poured his ‘‘heart and soul’’ into the club.
Dowling graduated from Otago Polytechnic last year with a bachelor of applied science in sport management and coaching.
As part of the course he created a project on increasing Pasifika participation in cricket and hoped to use those findings in ‘‘real life’’, through creating cricket-modified games for Oamaru’s large Pasifika community.
He was relishing the role already and was looking forward to meeting more of the community.
‘‘I think Oamaru’s going to be quite a cool place to live. I’m pretty lucky to be able to play cricket for a bit of a job.’’