If there's one thing Rhys Smith is passionate about in life, it's cricket.
Following in the footsteps of his family, it was only a matter of time before he would develop a love for the sport.
"I was always at the games watching my dad play, it then led to me taking up Milo Cricket and it all grew from there," Smith said.
When he found a way to play his favourite sport while being able to represent his Yorta Yorta ancestry, that passion grew even greater.
Smith, who is a proud member of the Eaglehawk Cricket Club, has returned from the National Indigenous Cricket Championships held in the Northern Territory.
"It's really important for us when we go up to Alice Springs to be able to represent our mobs and where we are from," Smith said.
"We show it with our stumps, every state has a set of stumps which have a meaning behind them."
Smith played for the Victorian side, whose stumps represent the saying "Noogal Toengorrt Tani", which translates to "belong success/win".
"Bendigo doesn't have a massive indigenous population in terms of cricket," Smith said.
"So to be able to represent the ECC as well was great, it shows how welcoming and culturally involved our club is."
The tournament started in the mid 90s as the Imparja Cup, a cricket carnival where Alice Springs and Tennant Creek teams would play a friendly match to showcase indigenous cricket.
Over the years it has grown, and in addition to the Imparja Cup, the NICC was added to the carnival.
The Victorian team made it to the semi-finals this year, but were eliminated from the championships by Queensland.
"One of the QLD blokes got on a roll and was hitting bombs which sunk us," Smith laughed.
Regardless of not leaving the NT as the champions, the tournament is about much more than winning.
"It's an opportunity to get as many players as we can into a high-performance cricket space pathway," Smith said.
Smith's experience extends from his time with the NICC Victorian team and ECC, with years on the pitch playing for the Sandhurst CC, Preston Baseballers and West Heidelberg.
He also takes to the footy field for the Bears Lagoon Serpentine FNC for "something to do in the off season".
Smith knows it's too late to pursue cricket as a career profession, but that doesn't bother him.
"I'm probably a bit past my opportunity to play professionally, but cricket is a hobby I will keep for the rest of my life."
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