Sam Ward says mixing his passion with employment is somewhat of a dream come true.
The 24-year-old has a love for cricket and a fortnight ago he took up the position of Southland Cricket Association's development officer.
He replaces Emma Campbell who recently stepped down from the role and Ward is looking forward to doing what he can to help a sport which, like many, is currently having its struggles in attracting new, and even retaining, junior players.
Ward concedes it is not going to be an easy task but is keen to play his part in assisting cricket in Southland.
"To do what you love is great, so I'm glad to have this opportunity," he said yesterday.
The position is funded by the Otago Cricket Association and it covers looking after the community side of the sport throughout the region.
"I'm looking forward to getting around some of the places. I've never been to Te Anau before, so it's going to be good to get to these places.
Ward is from Dunedin where he attended Otago Boys' High School playing for the school's first XI.
He also progressed through the Otago group grades which included playing for the under-19 team at the national tournament.
The wicketkeeper-batsmen has also spent time playing and coaching in Ireland before returning to Dunedin where he has been working at the Otago University in the payroll department before learning of the vacant position at the Southland Cricket Association.
Ward has coached junior representative teams in Dunedin and his coaching post in Ireland stretched from children to the senior level.
His first couple of weeks has been filled with school visits and this week conducting holiday programmes. He is keen to introduce himself to as many people in Southland cricketing as he can in the coming weeks.
As well as helping Southland cricket advance in his capacity as a development officer he wants to make a mark as a player by pushing for selection in the Southland Hawke Cup team this season.
"I definitely want to give it a crack, that's a goal of mine," he said.
"I've been working quite hard on my game so I'm going to try crack into that team."
Ward was handed the captaincy of Dunedin club Albion for the coming season before he realised he would be relocating to Southland.
He will now play for Marist in the Southland club competition reuniting with a couple of mates he attended University with.
His Marist team will take on Gore club Albion at Hamilton Park today in round one of the Southland senior competition, while in other games the Metropolitan Tigers play Invercargill-Old Boys at Metro and Appleby Rams and Southland Boys' High School square off at Southland Boys'
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