Going in to bat for Indian kids
A COLLABORATION across the ages is aiming to even the score for disadvantaged children in India.
The project was generated from a school trip to India by three St Edmund's College students.
They were amazed to see little children with disabilities playing cricket using old thongs as bats.
After they returned, one of the students, Thomas Sotiriadis, told his grandfather Errol Elliott and he did something about it.
"We've previously gone to East Timor and Samoa but we were invited to go to India this year with another Edmund Rice school. Luckily we were selected to travel over there with them," Thomas said.
"One of the things we saw was kids playing cricket and having to use sandals and Frisbees."
It struck them about the gulf of difference between them and the Indian children.
He told his grandfather Errol Elliott - a St Edmund's Old Boy - and he contacted the Ipswich Men's Shed at Bundamba.
The shed is a place for men to socialise, share their skills and remain active in the community.
Men's Shed secretary Col James said the men in the shed were more than happy to help.
The first step was making a prototype that could be used by all people. Some of the child cricketers in India have no legs.
"Obviously you can't buy these in any sport stores," he said with a laugh. "They were made to order.
"We've got band saws, we've got lathes, so basically we had some timber that we ripped into shape and made our own bats.
"Someone came up with the idea of putting bike inner-tubes on to the handles, which was a tricky part in itself.
"I wasn't involved in that part; I was involved in making handles on the lathe."
The genius step came after he thought, Okay we've got 30 bats; now do we carry 30 bats?
"I came up with the idea of boxes which hold bats and balls and become the stumps. I've patented this idea so if Nike wants them…" he said.
Yesterday, the Men's Shed representatives presented them to the school to take to India.
Teacher Bernie Wong said the trip to India "opened the boys' eyes to what is out there; outside their own little world".
"These three gentlemen were able to come back and share what they saw with the other students," Mr Wong said. "And that's extended to the Men's Shed as well. It's a phenomenal experience for the young men and life-changing for all of us."