The grassroots development of cricket in township schools continues as the Gary Kirsten Foundation provided net facilities and cricket equipment, as well as a fully qualified coach, to Khayalitsha, Cape Town’s Siphamandla Secondary School.
“There is so much undiscovered talent in our country and we’re hoping that, through this initiative, we will be able to provide a healthy alternative for young people in the township communities,” explained former World Cup winning Cricket Coach Gary Kirsten.
He said that the need for sporting facilities in township schools is just so great that, unfortunately, the Gary Kirsten Foundation cannot meet the demands on it’s own.
“We always like to encourage others to join us in the roll out of more of these cricket ecosystems and net installations. Through the provision of nets, equipment and coaching opportunities we are absolutely amazed at the difference these cricket ecosystems make in these township areas in a very short space of time.”
The second recipient of the foundation’s Township Cricket Development Initiative, Siphamandla – one of the leading academic schools in the area – has more than 1 200 pupils, most of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds with limited, if any, access to sporting facilities.
“We only have one area for netball but otherwise there are no fields for our learners to play,” explained Siphamandla principal, Andile Magadla. “We have a lot of space but we didn’t have people who could assist us with facilities.
“The youth today have turned to soccer because it doesn’t need a lot of equipment but our learners are very interested in cricket and very excited about the new facilities.”
The Gary Kirsten Foundation is committed to developing South African sporting talent in township areas, as there is a dire under-representation of black African cricketers in domestic, first-class and international cricketing structures.
Through the Township Cricket Development Initiative, the foundation supplies each school with two artificial cricket nets – comprising a concrete base covered in astroturf with netting covering a steel frame – as well as complete kit bags with cricket equipment for an entire team. A full-time coach, under the guidance of the Gary Kirsten Cricket Academy, further ensures a sustainable sporting ecosystem. The locally sourced and accredited coach also benefits from development programmes and an ongoing income. Access to the facilities is available to all surrounding schools and cricketing communities.
The inaugural recipient of this benevolent project was Khayalitsha’s Chris Hani Arts and Culture High School, headed by the charismatic, Madoda Mahlutshana.
“One of the key challenges we were faced with is the lack of sports’ facilities,” explained Mahlutshana. “We had no fields or equipment for our children to play sport.”
He explained that cricket is a popular sport in the impoverished township.
“One of our feeder schools has a cricket development programme but when the children come to high school, they are despondent because there are no facilities.”
True to his proactive nature, Mahlutshana approached the Gary Kirsten Foundation about the school’s circumstances and was met with a warm welcome and enthusiasm from the team.
“Gary and I share the belief that we need to provide a platform in the townships to develop our players. It is no good taking children out of the townships to more privileged schools; we need to bring the facilities to the children.
“I believe that, with these facilities, in two to three years our players will be competent enough to play at the level of top league schools.”
Chris Hani and Siphamandla are two of 15 high schools in the area, each with an average of 1 200 pupils per school. Added to this number are the upcoming players from Khayalitsha Cricket Club, also looking to hone their skills, all of whom will benefit greatly from the recent donations.
Kirsten concluded: “Chris Hani and Siphamandla were identified as prime candidates for our development initiative and, as soon as the nets were installed, the youngsters – both boys and girls – started practicing and enjoying themselves. This is exactly what we had hoped for and we anticipate they will make great strides in the cricketing arena.”