Soweto’s Dobsonville Oval at the Bramfischerville Sports Complex will play host to the 2nd Momentum eKasi Challenge match next month when the bizhub Highveld Lions host The Unlimited Titans in what has now become an annual pre-season clash.
Initiated last year, the eKasi Challenge was created as a way for three major cricket brands, the Lions and the Titans franchises and sponsor Momentum, to join forces to bring professional cricket to the community and to actively support cricket development at grassroots level. As with last year, players are not charging match fees and are giving freely of their time.
Last year’s hosts, the Titans hosted the inaugural match at the Mamelodi Oval outside Pretoria. The challenge is held annually, with the venue alternating between a Pretoria and Johannesburg township.
The match will be played on Friday, 22 August 2014, and will be televised live on SuperSport.
This year Lions’ head coach Geoffrey Toyana will have everything to play for. Not only are the Lions defending their title, but Toyana hails from Soweto so a win on his home turf will be unprecedented and a double reward.
The bizhub Highveld Lions have had six weeks of focussed pre-season preparation for the coming season and the team is looking good to compete in this season opener.
Greg Fredericks, CEO of Lions Cricket, commented: "The bizhub Highveld Lions thoroughly enjoyed participating in this event last year and we are really looking forward to hosting it this time round. This event is a big part of growing cricket in new and unprecedented ways and spreading the love of the game. The players enjoyed the experience last year and the friendly rivalry we have with our neighbours will set a fascinating backdrop to the event”.
“From a Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) perspective this is a tremendous opportunity to not only take professional cricket to the communities but also grow the game in the greater Soweto area. By incorporating the schools and the club into the initiative we hope that this will be a catalyst for the growth of the participation in and support of cricket in the area,” Fredericks added.
In preparation for the match players from the Lions and volunteers from the Mighty Hearts, Momentum’s staff volunteers programme, will roll up their sleeves to repaint and refurbish the clubhouse at the Dobsonville Oval for Mandela Day on Friday 18 July. The pitch will also receive attention in preparation for a match at this level.
The upgrade of the clubhouses will make a meaningful impact as the facilities are utilised by the local community and schools in the area. Apart from a fresh lick of paint, the change rooms, bathrooms and showers will be spruced up and retiled and a leaky roof repaired.
The GCB has made the development and transfer of skills a big component to their outcomes for this project. The event management staff will be working closely with the members of the Dobsonville Cricket Club so that this can also be a growth experience that amongst other things will see Chris Scott, Head Groundsman of the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, preparing the playing facilities for the match alongside the groundstaff at Dobsonville Cricket Oval.
Jacques Faul, CEO of Titans Cricket, commented: “The phenomenal success of the first eKasi Challenge match in Mamelodi has created great expectations. We are confident that the match in 2014 will build on the popularity of the inaugural event, and become a highlight on the sporting calendar of Soweto.
“We are committed to transformation and growth of the game by developing human capital and cricketing excellence in the heart of the townships. Our philosophy is that we want to take the game to the townships and develop and nurture stars in areas such as Soweto in order to make them winners and champions for South Africa.
“Leaving a cricketing legacy in these prominent townships will be part of our long-term goals with the Momentum eKasi Challenge.”
Commenting on the initiative Danie van den Bergh, head of Brand at Momentum said: “We are proud that our sponsorship and association with cricket in South Africa gives us the opportunity to expose more people to top level professional cricket on pitches closer to home. This gives youngsters a chance to be inspired by top players and their sporting greats. As with last year, we are again happy to be part of the team refurbishing the sports grounds so that long after the match is finished, we will have left behind something of value for this community.”
To coincide with the match and the refurbishment, Momentum will also be hosting a series of workshops at schools in Soweto, with the purpose of developing life skills through sports development. The workshops will also make use of the Momentum Health Medikidz book - a comic book designed as “medutainment” for children aged between eight and 12. The Medikidz comic book is part of a greater initiative to explain to children what happens inside their bodies when they exercise and the importance of being active from a young age.
Cricket South Africa Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat, welcomed the decision to continue with this fantastic initiative.
“We are thrilled that Momentum together with the Lions and the Titans are continuing with the eKasi Challenge match. Playing top-class cricket in our townships will help to spread the game quicker in disadvantaged areas where we must grow and unlock new talent,” said Mr. Lorgat.
“The worth of the eKasi Challenge will be realised further when last year's venue in Mamelodi will host an ODI match between the SA 'A' team and the English Lions later this season,” Lorgat added.
Momentum’s sponsorship means that entrance on match day will be free and everyone will be welcome. Close to 1,000 school children will be attending the match. The match starts at 10h00 and gates will be open from 09h00.