Khayelitsha schoolchildren were introduced to the life-changing world of cricket recently after the official unveiling of the fourth Gary Kirsten Foundation net installation on Friday, 2 September.
Sivile Primary School pupils from Grades R to 7 now have access to newly constructed net facilities, a full complement of cricket equipment as well as a fully trained, locally sourced cricket coach thanks to the generous donation from a number of benefactors.
The celebratory handover event – powered by Peninsula Beverages – was attended by representatives from the Gary Kirsten Foundation’s sponsors as well as Gary Kirsten, the Gary Kirsten Cricket Academy team and the foundation’s coaches.
Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) has been a long-standing supporter of community and sports development especially in the rugby and cricket arenas.
“When we were presented with an opportunity to partner with Gary Kirsten and his foundation, it fitted in very much with one of our business purposes of ‘Making a Difference’,” said Priscilla Urquhart, Public Affairs and Communications Manager for CCPB. “We believe that the Gary Kirsten Foundation is doing that, and much more, to unearth the incredible talent that is the future of South African cricket and we look forward to a fulfilling partnership with Gary and his team.”
Gary Kirsten’s passion for the development of sporting talent in South Africa led to the establishment of this township cricket development initiative. This has provided the foundation with a talent scouting platform whereby talented players are identified and their skills harnessed through further cricket coaching opportunities.
“We have so much talent in this country and we are hoping to discover some raw potential that we can help to refine, honing their skills for the professional game through our foundation,” said Gary Kirsten, trustee of the Gary Kirsten Foundation.
Sivile Primary School principal, Zukisa Cwayi, said that, although there was a great interest in cricket at the school, it was not particularly evident in that part of Khayelitsha because of a lack of facilities.
“Now that we have the facilities on this side, we can encourage participation with the surrounding schools and start getting competitions going,” he explained.
It was through Cwayi’s connections to other recipient schools that he learnt about the net installation programme and made contact with the Gary Kirsten Foundation.
“Although we offer cricket as a sport at the school, it is demotivating for the learners and staff when there are no facilities or equipment,” he said. “Pupils, who come from the surrounding informal settlements, have to bring their own cricket bats and balls but many don’t have.”
However, on seeing the new facilities, both staff and pupils were extremely excited with the enthusiastic youngsters eager to start playing immediately.
“There is so much that they will learn from cricket besides the sport itself,” continued Cwayi. “The pupils’ communication in other languages will improve as they will have to communicate with others in teams. Reading will also improve as they will be exposed to newspapers and other media, where they can read about cricket. The children can also view cricket as a career, even if they don’t become professional cricketers, they can go into sports’ management.”
The R100 000 cricket ecosystem forms part of the Gary Kirsten Foundation’s ongoing Cricket Development Initiative which has seen three other Khayelitsha schools receiving the much-needed facilities and equipment, thereby developing the sport within schools.
“We are seeing such great attendance and commitment from our young players at our other three installations – namely Chris Hani Arts and Culture High School, Siphamandla Secondary School and Impendulo Primary School,” said Kirsten. “It’s fantastic to be able to bring Sivile Primary School on board and to increase the opportunities for these youngsters to be exposed to the beautiful game of cricket.”
The success of these cricket ecosystems is profound with plans to develop league teams going forwards. This is all owed to the constant fundraising initiatives and generous donations that have allowed the foundation to create this cricketing base, as well as creating jobs for locally-based cricket coaches. The rollout of these cricket ecosystems will continue as long as organisations and individuals are willing to support it.
For more information or to get involved, visit www.garykirsten.com