Just over a year ago, Geyser City Cricket Club decided to shake things up.

With player numbers dwindling in Rotorua as a whole and a lack of a clear pathway for juniors to progress to playing senior cricket, the powers that be at the club decided something had to change.

The unique and innovative changes they have made were recognised last week when the club was named the Ebbett Tauranga Club of the Year at the Bay of Plenty Sports Awards.

The work truly began in 2015 when the club identified three key issues with local cricket; a lack of connection between junior, secondary and senior cricket affecting the natural growth of player numbers; a lack of suitable training facilities; and a lack of coaching and associated support infrastructure that players needed for development.


Thus, the Geyser City Western Heights High School Old Boys and Geyser City John Paul College Old Boys teams were born - the first step on creating a pathway between school and senior cricket.

In the last year they have also worked with New Zealand Community Trusts, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, and the Rotorua Lakes Council on the development of a new indoor training facility at the Rotorua International Stadium.

They have obtained financial support to implement coaching plans, resources and programmes to further improve the development of players.

Geyser City Cricket Club member and the man who came up with the "old boys" concept, Kane Vanner, was quick to point out none of the club's achievements would be possible without the buy-in of all involved.

Geyser City Western Heights High School Old Boys' Richie Downs plays a shot against Geyser City John Paul College Old Boys at Boord Park. Photo / File
Geyser City Western Heights High School Old Boys' Richie Downs plays a shot against Geyser City John Paul College Old Boys at Boord Park. Photo / File

"[Receiving the award] was a shock and pretty humbling. There were a lot of worthy contenders among the nominees and we were pretty overwhelmed.

"The most pleasing thing has been the buy-in from the players, the schools - everybody involved is getting on board. It's a lot of work, we know that, but it's pleasing to see people seeing the model and understanding how it works."

Vanner said the club was pleased with what had been achieved so far, but those involved were well aware it was merely the beginning of a long journey.

"We're under no illusion that it's a tough challenge and it's not a five minute job. It's small steps and we're certainly not at the end of our journey, there is a lot more to do."


The next focus for the club was improving junior cricket and the pathway from there to secondary school.

"That natural pathway of local talent. In the past, like most clubs, we've sort of relied on who's around and who comes to town, so this is really a bit of a change, it's about making that pathway right through from the young kids to make things sustainable."

He said the atmosphere within the club during the last year had been great and there was a healthy rivalry building between the two old boys teams.

"That was one of our biggest take aways, there's a fierce loyalty to school of origin and they really do compete hard. We're one club, but we have a great rivalry internally, it's excellent, it's cool to see.

"We want to build on that but at the same time not exclude anyone. We have a lot of players that have come from different schools, backgrounds and towns - we need to make sure the model encompasses everybody."

Vanner said the goal now was to continue building on what the club had achieved while remaining adaptable and willing to learn to ensure the future of cricket in Rotorua was a bright one.