Joshua Mapstone is living the dream to which many young men aspire – getting a great education and leaping into an early career opportunity that combines business with adventure and travel.

The Goonellabah-based Southern Cross University Bachelor of Business in Sport Tourism student has won a prestigious internship with the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program. The 12-month internship has taken him to Papua New Guinea to help establish junior cricket as a sport.

AYAD is a highly competitive national program that selects only the best and brightest young Australians to work in developing nations, giving them a unique opportunity to help build that nation’s capacity, through applying their own special talents in selected fields.

Joshua, who has played cricket since he was six and has captained the university’s cricket team, is over the moon at the internship which forms part of his degree. He has also won the $2000 School of Tourism and Hospitality Management International Internship Scholarship for his great academic results.

Joshua’s internship is with Cricket PNG, a new and rapidly growing organisation dedicated to promoting cricket to youngsters across PNG.

“There are countless different projects being undertaken in PNG, making it a really exciting place to be right now,” said Josh, while on a brief visit back to Lismore last week.

“One of the cricket projects I am directly involved with is the launching of cricket in Goroka, which is a major city in the Eastern Highlands region, and also in Mt Hagen, in the Western Highlands.

“This involves designing and delivering a major school cricket program aimed at reaching 6000 students before June 2011 and supporting locally-based cricket development officers to deliver it.

“As the cricket development manager, I’ll be working to build the game in these areas as well as helping to implement PNG’s largest sporting program, the Bank of South Pacific Schools Kriket Program.

“The aim is to introduce 150,000 students across the country to the sport of cricket over the next three years.

“I’ll also be working with the PNG Government to attract increased funding for facilities and to boost the junior program.

“Cricket is almost unheard of in many remote areas of PNG and is rarely played. Most villages don’t have a cricket pitch or a cricket ground, or even cricket gear and no idea about the rules of the game.

“When I turn up at a village school there is generally great excitement and everyone wants to play. They are very keen to learn and that makes the teaching part of my role very rewarding.

“But there are also many other exciting projects that I have already been involved with, including being the main co-ordinator and host for the recent Australian Indigenous guest cricket match in PNG.

“Cricket PNG is a very exciting organisation with some major development plans and I am very excited to be a part of its future.

“My other areas of focus include organising a major Cricket PNG competition, and establishing recruitment, financial management and fundraising procedures.”

Joshua, who came to university straight after finishing Year 12 at Lismore High School, will finish his AYAD internship next May.

Joshua said he was glad a school teacher had encouraged him to apply for an early entry position at Southern Cross University through the Star Entry Scheme.

“I chose my degree because it offered a lot of broad job outcomes. I could branch out into tourism management, sport management or business, and that was very appealing as I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to end up,” he said.

“The internship has definitely been the best part of the degree. It has given me the opportunity of experiencing a real job in the real world. It is absolutely hands-on and you get the opportunity to put all the theory you have learnt into practice.

“I have been using the learning from my professional development and human resources management units during this internship and the material I studied has proven invaluable.

“At times during my internship, I have already had to train and manage staff, manage large budgets, recruit and manage volunteers, develop financial accounting spreadsheets, and organise marketing, publicity and fundraising – so everything I have learned is being put into practice.”

PICTURE: Joshua Mapstone is looking forward to introducing the game of cricket to remote PNG communities.