One month, one million balls - Auckland cricket fans take up the challenge

Auckland cricketers are stepping up to the challenge to bowl a collective one million balls in November.

The Net a Million challenge is encouraging cricketers to get practising as the season kicks off while also raising funds for the Cancer Society.

Every ball bowled by Aucklanders from October 31 to November 30 - whether on the field, in the training nets or in the backyard - counts towards the one million goal. Everyone’s individual tally is feeding into a combined total that can be tracked at net-a-million.raisely.com. The website makes it simple for players to set up a page, input their bowling, and be part of the combined effort.

Auckland Cricket staff and players have joined in the challenge, with ACES players Danru Ferns, Kyle Jamieson and Sean Solia taking on the challenge, as well as HEARTS players Amie Hucker, Anna Peterson and Skye Bowden adding their considerable bowling efforts to the cause.

Net a Million is a fantastic initiative and campaign that Auckland Cricket were happy to get behind and support, says Auckland Cricket Marketing and Events Manager Claudia Raven.

“With the cricket season kicking off over the weekend, it presents the perfect opportunity for players to sign up to Net a Million and record each ball they bowl to add to our one million goal, all while raising funds for Cancer Society Auckland at this difficult time.”

Cricketers can fundraise for the chance to win special access to this summer’s Super Smash games at Eden Park, ACES and HEARTS merchandise, and the top team will get a half-hour bowling session from an ACES or HEARTS player.

While there are lots of popular fundraising events that push people to reach a physical goal, this is a first for cricket fans. After such a disrupted year for sport, Net a Million will encourage kids to get off the couch and back into action. Parents and ‘big kids’ who’ve had too much screen time during lockdown are encouraged to join in, too.

Everyone who takes up the challenge will be helping to raise vital funds for Cancer Society Auckland Northland, which provides practical support for people with cancer, including accommodation, nursing and psychology services, as well as transport to and from treatment. The Cancer Society is also a major funder of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.

Net a Million reflects a pivot to individual fundraising that participants can do in their own time, which is crucial during the uncertainty of Covid-19, says Cancer Society Auckland Communications Manager Rachael Russell.

“This year has seen the cancellation of all our big crowd-based events, including Relay for Life, Walking Stars, and the Daffodil Day street collection, which has had a massive impact on our ability to raise funds,” Russell says. “On top of that, there is huge demand for our services post-lockdown. Domain Lodge, our free accommodation service, has been at capacity over the past few months as we play catch-up with cancer treatments.

“While we’re hopeful that all of our iconic fundraising events can return for 2021, we’ve had to be nimble in our approach this year. No-one wants to go back to Level 2 or 3, but if the worst happens, all the keen cricketers out there can still get in the backyard and bowl a million balls for us.”