Chris Swain

Chris Swain

Rockhampton teen becomes a true allrounder

Rockhampton teenager Chris Swain has the cricketing world at his feet after his successful tour of England with the Australian Indigenous XI but he isn’t taking anything for granted.

The promising all-rounder - who has also played for three years with the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander XI which competes at the National Indigenous Championships - is determined to get a trade in case the fairytale ending of a professional cricket career doesn’t eventuate.

He works long days as an apprentice plasterer with Brisbane company SouthPak Plastering before going to cricket training with the Northern Suburbs first-grade team in the evening. It is an exhausting routine but he reckons it’s worth it.

“I love my cricket but I’d like to have a trade behind me as well,” Chris says. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this so someday I can start my own business.”

“When I first started I was doing 10 hours days although it’s come back to eight hours now,” Chris says.

“I really got knocked the first couple of days but I’m getting used to it. I’ve learned a lot of really good things and it pays good money.”

Chris’s success has been built on his can-do attitude to work which has already seen him employed as everything from a concreter to an apprentice hairdresser.

He is the first to admit he has never been fussy about jobs saying: “Whatever job was on offer, I took it.”

Chris lives 640 kilometres away from his family in Rockhampton but has benefited from his cricketing connections who have given him strong support in Brisbane.

Chris came to Brisbane after the coach of the National Indigenous XI, Michael Mainhardt (who is also the coach of the Northern Suburbs first grade team), put him in touch with Club President Glenn Carey, who is an Industry Mentor at Construction Skills Queensland.

“I hunted around my contacts and found him an apprenticeship and he is doing really well,” Glen says. “He is a great young bloke.”

“There is a whole group of these guys from across Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands all the way down to the border who are incredibly talented.”

“Chris is a fantastic cricketer – we only discovered the other day that he can bat and bowl just as well left or right handed.”

“Our goal now is to find the next Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cricketer to play for Queensland, then possibly Australia and we are trying to fish out more players like Chris.”

Meanwhile, Chris has been learning that sport and work have more in common than many people think.

“Being on site is just like being in a team. If someone has a sick day it puts everyone else behind,” Chris says. “Everyone’s got to put in and no one can slack off.”

“Construction Skills Queensland has given me the greatest opportunity in an industry that has an enormous amount to offer Indigenous people and I look forward to my future within the industry and hopefully encouraging other Indigenous people to gain an Apprenticeships like me.” 

According to Construction Skills Queensland Indigenous Training Project Manager Larry Budd, Chris is very keen to support Construction Skills Queensland in activities at employment promotional days such as Former Origin Greats (Fogs) and other employment expos where possible.

Chris has the potential to be the perfect role model not only for Construction Skills Queensland but, more importantly, for the industry and Indigenous Australians, Budd said.

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