Defending champions and this year’s hosts the bizhub Highveld Lions are gearing up for the Momentum eKasi Challenge, the pre-season warm up match against close rivals the Unlimited Titans, which sees professional cricket being brought to local, township ovals. The matches alternate between being hosted on either team’s home turf. This year the eKasi Challenge is being held in Soweto on Friday, 22 August 2014at the Dobsonville Cricket Oval in Soweto at the Bramfischerville Sports Complex.
At the very heart of the eKasi Challenge is the intention of developing the sport at a grassroots level and using sports a tool for initiating life-skills training and to inspire township youth. As with last year, this year’s eKasi Challenge includes several events and meaningful engagement opportunities with the local community prior to the match.
“It is very exciting for us to be competing in the 2nd edition of the eKasi Challenge especially as the team will be able to play in Dobsonville with a view to growing the game in another emerging market area. Last year’s game was a massive success in Mamelodi with great support and energy throughout the day. Hopefully we can return the favour and beat the Lions in their back garden this year," says Rob Walter, Unlimited Titans coach.
To prepare the grounds for professional play, team members from the Lions and volunteers from the Mighty Hearts, Momentum’s staff volunteers’ programme, repainted and refurbished the clubhouse at the Dobsonville Oval on Mandela Day. The pitch is also currently receiving the necessary 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. The Lions 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 skills transfer, as Chris Scott, Head Groundsman of the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, is preparing the playing facilities for the match alongside the groundstaff at Dobsonville Cricket Oval.
To fully capitalise on the match-ready pitch and to highlight local cricket talent, The Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) will be hosting a development coaching session between the Lions team and selected development cricket players from the Soweto. The hope is that with initiatives like the eKasi Challenge there will be an enduring interest and steady flow of grassroots development of talent moving up the ranks over time. The pre-match warm up will also be held at the Dobsonville Cricket Oval.
“The mighty-hearted Lions’ players see this as an opportunity to promote cricket in the area and stimulate an interest in the sport,” says Stephen Cook captain of the Lions, “And ultimately we want to share our love of the game with those who may not have been exposed it to previously”.When not spending time coaching or practicing in the nets, the players are looking forward to spending time with the local community, mainly in the Dobsonville area.
Momentum’s sponsorship means that entrance on match day is free and everyone is welcome. Close to 1,000 school children will be attending the match. In addition to exposing youngsters to professional cricket, a full programme of community-based life-skills workshops will be presented at local schools. In conjunction with an educational and health inspired comic book MediKidz, players will take the message of literacy, health and wellness to local school children. Sponsored by Momentum the Medikidz workshops will focus on teaching children between the ages of eight and 12 the benefits of leading an active lifestyle. Playing cricket and other outdoor sporting activities is what the MediKidz philosophy advocates for all youngsters.
Danie van den Bergh, head of Brand at Momentum says, “In what promises to be an exciting annual match, the eKasi Challenge is about giving back to communities. Players magnanimously give of their time and take the game to communities where future stars can be inspired. At Momentum – and through our sponsorship – we believe in the fortitude of shaping future champions of this gentlemen’s sport. We believe we can make a meaningful contribution to cricket’s transformation, one initiative at a time. We invite all in the area to come along and enjoy the rivalry, and our hope is that children in the vicinity are inspired to take up the bat and ball and become tomorrow’s cricket heroes”.
The match will be played on Friday, 22 August 2014, and will be televised live on SuperSport. The match starts at 9h30 and gates will be open from 09h00. Bring your family, friends, neighbours and enjoy the day.