It’s not about the cricket

The annual farmer versus grower cricket game recently took place in the Bay of Plenty. Organiser, dairy farmer Stephen Crossan, says a day off farm meant everyone was a winner.

Stephen is the driving force behind the event. He plays premier league cricket for Te Puke and started out with the idea of wanting to get more people involved with his local club. “So I decided to bring the farming people and the hort people together to have a game of cricket here.”

He got sponsors involved and then decided to use the event to raise awareness about Farmstrong – a cause close to his heart – which promotes the importance of looking after yourself on farm.

“As a farmer I just think it’s important to down tools every once in a while and come and have a great day with some like-minded people. Especially with the whole Covid thing at the moment, it’s pretty easy for a farmer or an orchardist to be stuck in their own little bubble and not get out and see other people.”

Which is where a change of scene can work wonders.

“To someone else looking in it might just look like a fun game of cricket, a couple of hours on a Sunday, but for someone on the field it might be their one opportunity to get off their farm or orchard for the week or for the month. An event like this is not just about the cricket. Putting the Farmstrong name on this event really does make this more than a simple game of cricket.”

“When we got together afterwards, there was no ‘shop talk’ which was pretty important. We just talked about the game over a couple beers and a nice barbecue.”

Time off is beneficial

Stephen thinks Farmstrong’s message about making wellbeing a business priority on farm and orchard is starting to get through.

“It’s important as a farmer to look after yourself. That’s the number one reason we’re doing this — to promote wellness and get people off the farm or orchard. This game encourages people to think about messages like ‘live well farm well’.

“The beauty of something like cricket is that you can schedule it in your calendar. So even though I’m busy on farm, I still make sure I play premier cricket for Te Puke every summer on Saturdays. If I can do that every week, I reckon others can at least do it once a summer.”

Stephen believes time off farm to rest and recover has benefitted his business. “It goes back to the wellbeing thing. If your mental and physical wellbeing are in good shape, then your farm is going to be operating a lot better.”

Giving back is a good feeling

Stephen’s also a fan of Farmstrong’s Five Ways to Wellbeing – simple habits that help people keep well. One of them is giving back to friends and community.

“Running this event and seeing people enjoy it and have a good day, made me feel so good. It gives you energy. It took a bit of ringing round, tracking down sponsors. I made sure the players could just show up – I had the cricket, bats, the uniforms, and the food and drink all there ready to go. So, it was pretty hard to come up with an excuse not to play.”

In the interests of inter-sector rivalry, we can report that the farmers batted first and scored 136 runs off 30 overs. A total the hort team chased down in 25 overs.

“The hort team were a very good team so we’ll be on the lookout for some ‘gun’ dairy farm cricketers next year. If there’s any out there, get in touch. We can’t lose two in a row that’s for sure,” he laughs.

From now on, the match will be held on the last Sunday every February. Stephen also shared what he does to look after himself once the cricket season is over.

Book it in and make it happen

“On a Monday I play twilight golf. 5.30pm I go down to the golf club and play 9 holes, have a beer and chat with some mates. That’s pretty important – I look forward to my Mondays. Most rural communities in New Zealand will have something like that you can join. You just need to book it in and make the effort.”

“Let’s face it, there’s always another job to do on a farm. The dairy farmers who played with me, for example, turned up five minutes before the game started in their gumboots and were rushing round. But they still put the uniform on and got out there.”

“I think this shows things are changing in our industry. Farming and hort are both high pressure, results-driven businesses. That’s why looking after yourself is so important. I’ve come to realise the importance of things like my cricket and golf.”

“We’re grateful for Farmstrong, not just for supporting our cricket game, but for the work it does in the community supporting farmers. It’s definitely needed. I encourage farmers to check out Farmstrong website. Have a little read, there’s bound to be a few tips for you there.”

Farmstrong is an award-winning rural wellbeing programme that helps farmers and farming families live well to farm well. To find out what works for you and ‘lock it in’, check out our farmer-to-farmer videos, stories and tips on

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