Cricket's flourishing at Aquinas College.
From barely scraping together the eleven players required for one team back in 2003 when the school opened, the college now boasts 45 male and 12 female players.
And next week, the sport will reach yet another milestone at the college.
After 12 months of fundraising with a charity dinner and auction and working at events like the Tauranga Races, the Aquinas College first XI ventures out on its first international tour – an eight day, four game trip to Melbourne.
“One of the goals of the tour is developing our first XI playing talent,” says Paul Wills, chairman of the Aquinas College Cricket Club.
“The team has also qualified for the Northern Districts Gillette Cup 1st XI finals week in Hamilton in March and the tour will be part of the build-up.”
Paul says it will also give the boys a taste of what's required when playing in a new environment in a different country.
The 12 players range in age from year 9 to year 13, and all have at least represented their respective Western Bay of Plenty age group teams. The team will be accompanied by its English coach Tom Piddington and four adults.
The Aquinas College Melbourne tour is eight days of games and intense cricket associated activities. A highlight will be the team stepping onto the turf at Melbourne Cricket Ground. The team won't be playing there, but will still get a deep sense of the relevance of the iconic Australian venue.
The next day they will be in the stands at the MCG for the Big Bash game between the Melbourne Stars and the Hobart Hurricanes. They will also tour the National Sports Museum.
“The support of our 13 sponsors has been huge in helping fund this inaugural overseas tour by the Aquinas first XI,” says Paul Wills. “And we would like to thank them for their generous support in making this tour happen.”