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Petersen told the Shepparton News it was a thrill to be nominated.
”It is very flattering to get the recognition,” Petersen said.
”I certainly didn’t expect it and to be among 20 when there was hundreds and hundreds of people put forward makes me feel pretty good.”
Now Shepparton based Petersen, who has Asperger syndrome, has been involved with Kyabram District Cricket Association’s Grasshoppers committee for seven years after joining in 2002.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests.
Having moved to a farm at Dhurringile, between Murchison and Tatura, with his parents as a 16-yearold he originally played with Tatura in Cricket Shepparton competition.
It wasn’t for him and when he decided to give cricket another go with the Grasshoppers, he found it was a much better fit.
Club stalwart Ron Burls was the first to greet Petersen and took it upon himself to ensure the youngster was made to feel at home.
The rest, as they say, is history.
He joined the committee seven years ago and has served as secretary for the past six.
Petersen is also on Murchison’s football club committee.
He said the welcoming nature of the Murchison community was why both the cricket and football clubs had been such good fits.
”I have always found it hard when I go to places and meet lots of people,” Petersen said.
”That is probably the reason I wanted to be at Murchison.
”It is a smaller club in a smaller community and everyone has always made me feel welcome, which is something that didn’t really happen at Tat.
”When I went to Murch the first thing that Ron did was really make a big effort to make me feel welcome.
”I am not sure whether it was because he knew about my Asperger’s or not, but he made sure everyone made me feel welcome and that was really appreciated.”
Petersen said the club’s treasurer Pam Fraser, who nominated him for the volunteer gong, and curator Dick Feehan had also been fantastic to him during his time at the club.
As part of the volunteer nomination, Petersen was invited to a breakfast for the Kookaburra Volunteer Recognition Program at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
All nominees then watched the third day of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India.
The breakfast was hosted by ABC radio personality Ian Cover and was attended by Victorian Sport and Recreation Minister Hugh Delahunty and former Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes.
Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide said it was important to acknowledge the service of volunteers as they are the ”lifeblood of the sport”.
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