Chit Chat: Kass Naidoo

2011-02-11 10:24

Why is cricket so important to South Africans?

In Madiba’s words: ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’

At Cricket South Africa (CSA), our aim is to make cricket a truly national sport of winners. South Africans of all cultures have found in cricket a sport they all can love.

What is the significance of the World Cup being played on three South-Asian countries?

It’s an opportunity to help develop cricket in Asia.

I doubt hosting the World Cup in India only would have given the ICC the reach they were looking for.

Similarly, Zimbabwe and Kenya hosted matches when we hosted the Cricket World Cup in 2003 in a bid to boost cricket on the African continent.

Do you think significant changes have been made in recognising and supporting women in male-dominated sports such as soccer, cricket and rugby?

More needs to be done to recognise women in sport.

The more young girls know, the better reference they have of what they can become. Women are making good ground in male-dominated environments.

Our personal successes will depend largely on how we cope with the pressures and challenges that come our way.

Have you opened doors for other women commentators in these male-dominated sports?

I am part of a process that ­started a long time ago.

Women such as Tinky Pringle, Cynthia Tshaka and Carol Manana certainly made the road easier for me.

In turn, I am glad to have broken through one or two glass ceilings because it helped me realise that nothing is impossible. I encourage women to pursue their dreams.

Do you still feel the need to prove yourself in this industry?

One of the main reasons I left broadcasting was to gain credibility in cricket.

My role at CSA has helped me learn the nitty-gritty of cricket administration.

I feel richer for the knowledge and experience I have gained.

Ultimately, I’m keen to find my comfort levels in these tough working environments.

I thrive on the challenges that come my way, and I look to prove to myself that I am able to rise to the occasion.

There have been various cricket scandals recently, such as the IPL bonuses, Herschelle Gibbs’ book, the Gauteng Cricket Board leadership battle and allegations of racism. How do you feel about this?

Nobody is bigger than the game and cricket will always be the winner.

At CSA, we are all keenly aware of our roles and what we need to do in order to move the game forward.

Do you think the development of the sport, at grass roots level in particular, has been fast enough?

More can be done to develop the game, but CSA is confident we are on track in terms of development.

CSA has the Presidential Plan in place, which is the blueprint for cricket development in South Africa.

The Presidential Plan consists of uniform programmes across the country, from Mini Cricket to the Proteas.

This allows young cricketers to move seamlessly from one provincial set-up to another.

The cricket development pipeline has produced a host of stars, including Makhaya Ntini, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Wayne Parnell and Hashim Amla.

If you were a betting lady, who would you put your money on to win the Cricket World Cup?

I’m not (a betting lady). But if I was, it would be hard to disagree that India are the overwhelming favourites, and I would also not discount Sri Lanka. But my heart says South Africa.

What is the biggest misconception about you?

That I’m the world’s first woman cricket commentator.

The first woman I heard commentate was West Indian Donna Symmonds.

She inspired me to follow my dream.

Tell us a bit about the UbuntuNOW project that you are currently working on?

It was launched in January (last month) to galvanise 100% support for the Proteas.

It is a 12-stop tour across the country that sees CSA visiting areas that are usually not touched by cricket.

It has been fascinating to see the responses from these communities as they experience the Pure Protea World Cup spirit.

What’s your pet peeve?

I hate missing deadlines.

If you were to take a longholiday after the World Cup, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to go to Argentina. I’d love to explore it.

It sounds interesting.

What’s on high rotation on your iPod at the moment?

Kings of Leon.

Which cricket player do you have a (not-so) secret crush on?

When I was 14, I had a crush on (retired) Jonty Rhodes.

He was the best role model a kid could ask for.

What are your plans after the World Cup?

I’m hoping to take the UbuntuNOW campaign back on the road.

This time with the trophy.

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