Alana Baldi is working hard to create positive sporting environments in the Goulburn Valley.
For 10 years, she has been a volunteer Special Olympics carer and was recently recognised for her time with Cricket Australia.
Her work running weekly cricket training sessions for people with a disability in Shepparton landed her a finalist spot in the Victorian Sports Awards.
Baldi was surprised to learn she had been nominated for the Victorian Young Volunteer of the Year.
‘‘Being a finalist in the awards is a huge honour,’’ she said.
‘‘It is a reflection of my hard work, but most importantly it reflects that what I am doing is benefiting other people.’’
The awards celebrate the work of participants, coaches, organisers and volunteers from all levels.
Each year, the awards honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to sport in Victoria, with entrants nominated by friends, family, teammates, club members or the community.
Baldi started volunteering with all-abilities sport after learning of the segregation faced by people with a disability.
‘‘Having a disability shouldn’t define you,’’ she said.
‘‘People in our community are quick to stereotype others when at times they don’t even understand what a disability is.’’
As a Cricket Australia A Sport For All Community Ambassador, Baldi runs weekly cricket training sessions as a way to help foster community participation and raise awareness of disabilities.
She also attends snow camps and track and field competitions as a Special Olympics carer, allowing athletes with a disability to travel interstate and overseas to pursue sporting dreams.
Her passion for all-abilities sport has been rewarded with her being appointed the 2017/2018 Victorian Vikings Cricket Team Assistant Coach, which Baldi says has been one of the highlights so far.
‘‘I have been lucky enough to compete internationally in athletics, but when I got injured a few years ago I wanted to stay in the sport,’’ she said.
‘‘Coaching was a good way to give back to the community.’’
Baldi is happy to be nominated and is looking forward to March 14, whatever the outcome.
‘‘To be one of the top four is a huge achievement,’’ she said.
‘‘I hope I can continue to promote and educate disability sport programs and, in turn, I hope it sheds a light on disability sport.’’