Limpopo village cricket team takes field of dreams to YouTube

2016-05-26 11:21
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

PICS: The village cricket team with just 'a slab of concrete and sheer passion'

The Oaks Cricket Club is a rural club for teens. The equipment is scarce, but they make the most out of their situation using their "desire and passion to play". View pics of the club in action here.

Johannesburg – A chance drive near the village of Ga-Sekororo, in Limpopo, has exposed a burgeoning passion for cricket in a community that lives on very little.

After a hard day working on an assignment, Letaba Herald journalist, Hendrik Hancke, was travelling the dusty roads of the Maruleng district when he happened upon the Oaks Cricket Club.

"It was absolutely incredible and so unexpected. They were playing in the middle of nowhere and it was very competitive. There was no ground or proper equipment, just a slab of concrete and sheer passion."

Hancke approached the players and the coach, Cavaan Moyakamela, and was greeted with open arms.

"I asked if I could take pictures. They agreed and I eventually wrote a piece about them in our local publication."

Hancke got in touch with friend and South African Film and Television Award winning producer Niel van Deventer. They began the Field of Dreams initiative to generate interest in the Oaks Cricket Club – hoping to give the club's passion a much-needed boost.

They made a short YouTube video about the club.

Van Deventer said he received a call from Hancke and sent a camera crew to the area.

"We wanted to film them playing and what they do every day – the way they live, their love for the sport.

"We got some great footage and are now trying to get funding to put together a proper documentary. At the moment we just have the trailer. We want to help these kids, but we do not want it to just be once-off."

Van Deventer said since the trailer was made, local businesses had given the club equipment and infrastructure.

Their only escape

Hancke visited the homes of the youngsters during Van Deventer's filming, and was touched to see them gathering to listen to a cricket game.

Photos supplied by the Letaba Herald

"The Proteas were playing and they all met at one of the kid's homes. I was so touched and surprised to see them all huddled near the radio, not even a television, listening to the game. In 2016, we all have so much and here these humble, passionate youngsters are living with whatever they can."

Hancke said the area the youngsters were growing up in was politically volatile.

"There are often tyres burning and violence. But through all this, these youngsters let their passions run through. I mean these kids literally go home after school and chop wood for fires and have the responsibility of many adult tasks.

"Their only form of escape is cricket."

Transformation is possible

Hancke explained how, 30 years ago, he had been afforded many cricketing opportunities.

"I had coaches, nets, basically everything you ever needed. That was 30 years ago. It breaks my heart to see these kids who are talented and passionate without access to these facilities."

Hancke said he believed transformation was possible.

"If we wake up to exposing black people in South African sport, we will be unbeatable. The feel of the populace is that government and formal sporting structures are not doing enough. I do not agree. I think there isn't much exposure to the need for rural development for them to act on."

Hancke said he approached Cricket South Africa head of development Clive Eksteen, who offered to help.

"We have just begun discussions and they are willing to look into ways to assist. I think South Africans, like Oaks, need to come from a place of passion for sport."

Don't stop with one club

Hancke hoped to take the "movie and exposure" concept to all parts of the country.

"We don't want to stop with one club. We want to walk into the Eastern Cape and even the whole country with the same idea.

"We want to make a movie, showcase the local talent and go to local business houses and ask, what will you do for your local team? These kids could be the next Proteas. How amazing would a story like that be?"

The desire to play

Oaks Cricket Club coach and founder Moyakamela said his recipe for success was simple: Passion.

"I began this club when I was still in high school, before matric. At the time, it was not a good sport for black people. Mostly, everyone in our area wanted to play soccer. All I had was a desire and passion to play."

Moyakamela said he began playing cricket with a tennis ball and would make a cricket bat out of pieces of wood he would find. Soon, his passion spread.

"We now have many divisions of teams from under-13 to under-19. We also have a girl's under-15 cricket team. We are now mostly playing in the school leagues."

Moyakamela said the club now had over 70 youngsters and was still growing.

"We are focusing a lot on the kids. They enjoy playing cricket. We do not want the kids to go into drugs or alcohol. We want them to chase their passions."

His message to other poor communities was simple: "If you have passion for a sport, don't waste it. The more you waste, the more the kids become involved in drugs and alcohol. It is up to the senior ones to keep them fit and healthy. It is for the love of sport. Cricket is a gentlemen's game. It is all about cricket. If you have spirit for it you can build South Africa."

- See more photos of the cricketers in the gallery linked.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  good news

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