How one man is using cricket to help his drought affected-town

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When Bruce Paulsen initiated a local cricket competition some 29-years ago in his hometown of Quilpie, he had little knowledge that it would act as an escape for the 10-year-long drought that has impacted the area.

Located 980-kilometres west of Brisbane in Outback Queensland, Quilpie is home to 654 individuals, all who play a part in the community spirit that cricket brings to the town.

For the past three decades, Bruce has worked to raise money as a means of cutting down the cost affiliated with the sport, including covering travel expenses for away games.

Now 54, Bruce the local greengrocer is still responsible for organising the weekly games during the cricket season and was instrumental in getting the Quilpie Killer Whales Cricket Club involved in the Charleville and District competition.

“We originally had a local competition which involved around three or four teams from Quilpie playing each other in a very casual Friday night comp,” said Bruce.

“That competition was struggling as 4 teams in Quilpie was too many, so we decided to form one team and branch out to play in the Charleville & District Competition.”

The District Competition covers seven teams and spans 400-kilometres wide from Tambo to Morven and Cunnamulla to Quilpie. An away game to Tambo means an eight hour round trip for the Quilpie Killer Whales.

“There’s a lot of travelling involved but that’s probably part of the fun that appeals to a lot of people,” said Bruce.

Quilpie’s economy relies heavily on the grazing and mining industries, with the drought heavily impacting the town, but Bruce said cricket is a great outlet for them.

“Around 40 percent of the club’s players come from properties and work in rural industries, so cricket is a good outlet for them to come and have a day out, to forget what they’re going through on the land.

“We’ve certainly had a rough couple of years and the last 10 we have had ongoing droughts. When you think you’re just about to get out of it, we get into another one, so it’s been a rugged ride.

“It’s a pretty sad thing to confront every day of your life and for it to happen so often out here, we’re looking for a bit of luck, so it’s nice for them to escape the daily grind of the drought.”

Most importantly, Bruce said cricket encourages a community spirit.

“We all get tied down with our hectic lives and everyone is busy with family, but cricket acts as an outlet and I think socially is where we come into our element nonetheless.

“Our small town is very unique; everyone knows everyone and people are so supportive, kind and generous, it’s just incredible how small towns work.”

The Quilpie Killer Whales Cricket Club is currently riding a sustained wave of success, taking home the last two district competitions, with a Sri Lanka tour on the radar.

“We have plans to go to Sri Lanka on a tour in the future and that will be a big thing to pull off. I’ve been fundraising this year to try to do it and get it going; if you can help make it easier for people to accomplish goals, that’s a big part of it,” said Bruce.

Bruce Paulsen’s story is part of Cricket Australia’s Community Champions initiative that aims to share the stories of local heroes making cricket a great game for all.

Know someone whose story deserves to be told? Nominate your Community Champions via https://www.communitychampions.com.au/