Footys4all Behind Bars Freedom Cricket Match

By Michael Gallus

Footys4all cricket

What do you do on a Sunday morning after a busy week at work and/or running the around with the family? Read the paper? Breakfast in bed? Sleep in perhaps? Not for me this sunny Sunday morning as I have decided to begin a volunteer Footys4all Behind Bars prison sporting/positive-mentoring clinic. Have I lost my mind? Quite possibly, though there is not any doubt if you ask my beautiful wife Amanda.


I organize all the gear, as one normally would packing the car for a little bit of beach cricket but this time the prison is the destination not the beach.  I check the address and off I go. As I approach the prison to play cricket in the Footys4all Behind Bars sporting/positive mentoring clinics for the first time, the nerves start to kick in and I wonder what will it be like. Where will we play cricket? Who will play? What will the rules be? What happens if the ball goes over the fence? Will it be the same as free cricket? What will the prisoners be like and most importantly will I be safe?


I approach reception with my plastic Ross Faulkner cricket set and two tennis balls and greet prison guards with a cheery hello at 8.30am on a Sunday morning. They return a friendly hello and we begin the process of identification and security checks of myself and the plastic Ross Faulkner Footys4all cricket set. ID is issued and then the cricket set and tennis balls are put through the X-ray machine followed by my shoes, my hat, my ID lanyards and my watch. Happily all clear is called and I am allowed to pass through to the next stage of the security check, which is a full body X-ray scan. I pass through and with no beeps issued I am again called all clear to continue. I nervously sigh with relief.


I put my shoes, hat and watch back on and am given back my plastic Ross Faulkner cricket set and two tennis balls and asked to wait as they call security to escort me to the unit where the Footys4all Behind Bars sporting/positive mentoring clinic will be held for the first time. It suddenly dawns on me that something that I have made sure has not happened in my life is now happening.

I am about to go into prison, VOLUNTARILY! Am I mad? Many people say so but I think myself lucky to be asked to provide hope and a sporting opportunity to people who without this program are not allowed or able to play cricket. Imagine not being able to play cricket ever. Think of the impact that not having cricket in your life would have on what you do, where you go, who you speak to, what you watch. It would create a big hole in your life I am sure.


The guard arrives to break up my thoughts about the freedom to play cricket and says hello and to follow him through more locked, steel heavy doors before entering the fresh air and natural sunlight of the prison grounds. We chat as we walk like we are on a suburban footpath walking towards a local cricket ground to play cricket on a sunny Sunday morning with our mates. The sight of multiple barbed wire and electric fences quickly returns my thoughts back to the harsh realities of my present surroundings. I reach the unit and enter through the front door to be warmly greeted by three prison mentors in Andrew, George and Darren. I am signed into the unit and am quickly welcomed with firm handshakes by many of the people from the unit. The word is put out that Michael from Footys4all is here to play cricket and that everyone is allowed to play.


We make our way to the outdoor area hemmed in by barbed wire, electric high wire fences and with only 2 tennis balls. The MCG it certainly isn’t but I close my eyes and listen to the jovial banter from everyone about to play. I could be at any suburban cricket ground as the excited cricket chatter is all encompassing. I hear: What are the rules? Who are the captains? How many innings? What happens if the ball goes over the fence? Who’s going to umpire? Can I bat first?

Cricket is cricket no matter where you are and isn’t that great.


Two captains are appointed, the teams selected, the creases marked, the scorer selected, the umpires positioned and the game begins. Same as any cricket game I have ever played or watched as a free man in my lifetime. How good is that! Cricket is cricket no matter where you are.



The hour and a half flies by and after two matches where everyone had a bat and a bowl and a chance to exercise and compete, the clinic time was up. The two balls that ended up over the fence stayed there. No climbing fences in here to get the ball that was for sure. Six and out was the umpires decision. Luckily we found another tennis ball in the unit to continue the game. I make a mental note to myself to bring more tennis balls in next week that is for sure. The other prison rules were as follows:

  • Tipperty was the style of cricket chosen,
  • The third umpire was in play with decisions just as controversial as the cricket on TV,
  • Over the fence being six and out was fiercely enforced especially after the first ball went over and we thought we only had two balls,
  • One hand one bounce,
  • Short time delay for the rolling of smokes which happened at the close of the first innings.

All common sense local or in this case prison rules.


There were classic catches, close run outs, plenty of 4’s and 6’s, shouts of joy and excitement, dissention, quick running, plenty of banter, nervous tension, arguments, victory and defeat – which was everything that I would normally associate with playing cricket on the outside.


Cricket is cricket and your right to play cricket like your freedom can be easily taken away by one poor decision.


Once again I ask you what would your life be like without cricket?


Now think about what your life would be like without your freedom.


Footys4all Behind Bars Prison Sporting/Positive Mentoring Clinics are all voluntary and if you are interested in becoming involved in changing lives for the better as a volunteer or as a sponsor please contact Footys4all volunteer founding director Michael Gallus at [email protected]

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