Cricket South Africa (CSA) and KFC embarked on their fifth KFC Mini-Cricket tour this week, visiting areas in around the Border region. The main aim of the tour is to expose both CSA and the sponsor to the work that is done in the different areas (both rural and urban) and to re-introduce them to the volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure the continued growth of the programme.
CSA General Manager: Cricket, Corrie van Zyl, is delighted with the tour’s success; “The KFC Mini-Cricket programme plays a critical part within the pipeline continuum of CSA. This is where the love for the game of cricket is nurtured and grown and it is a base from which the talent identification can start in order to produce future Proteas.
“The KFC mini-cricket tour is undertaken annually to visit the various regions within the CSA structures and this year the tour visited the historical breeding ground of black African cricket talent, namely the Eastern Cape/Border region.
“The tour serves multiple purposes. The current state of the program within that region is assessed and support is shown from the sponsor, KFC, and the CSA office to the KFC volunteers and players. Without their commitment to nurture, identify and develop young talent in our country, in spite of many constraints within the rural areas, this massive undertaking would not be possible. The tour once again proved that talent is in abundance in the Border area. It is also very important that all avenues are explored during this tour to ensure that these KFC kids have unrestricted access to the ‘hardball’ phase of the pipeline,” he said.
Places visited include the Willows Cricket Club in the township of Mdantsane in East London where former Proteas fast bowler, Makhaya Ntini, played club cricket. The journey moved on to Dale Junior College for Boys in King Williamstown, the feeder to the senior school that taught the likes of Ntini and Monde Zondeki.
The delegation then moved to Ntoleni Primary School in Fort Beaufort and later, the Fort Hare Academy in Alice where former Proteas bowler, Mfuneko Ngam, heads up the CSA/Border/Fort Hare joint project. The Academy is an initiative that was created to give more chances to black African players with the talent but not the opportunity to get exposure to top-class cricket facilities. It combines cricket training with university studies and life skills training. The mini-cricket festival held there included players from in and around the town of Alice and its surrounding rural villages.
The final day was spent in Middeldrift at the newly revamped Walter Mkwayi Cricket Oval and Buffalo Park Stadium in East London.
Deon Muller, Amateur Manager at Border Cricket Union was very happy to show the delegation his region and the hard work that is being put in to develop the game.
He said; “This tour was so important to us because there is so much hard work that has gone into getting the programme this far in our region. It’s been a few years since CSA has come to our area for a tour like this and I was really excited to show them the changes and achievements made. We are not just creating cricketers here, we are developing players who will grow into responsible adults and who will one day make a positive contribution to our society. For myself, it was an eye opener and a pleasure to see how much commitment is shown by the teachers and coaches who are making sure that the game is accessible to the children in their areas.”
KFC Sponsorship Manager, Lauren Turnbull, was heartened by the continued support from the coaches and volunteers, “The KFC Mini-Cricket programme has over 7 000 coaches nationwide and it is heart-warming and fulfilling to learn that coaches in the regions that were visited during the tour all share the commitment and sacrifice to insure that kids in their region get active through KFC Mini-Cricket,” she said.