Waiting 7 years for a cricket pitch

2013-11-07 12:06

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A rural Mpumalanga cricket academy has threatened to cut ties with Cricket SA’s provincial affiliate over a lack of support and broken promises of building them a pitch.

The Malekutu Cricket Academy in Malekutu near Nelspruit has been producing good cricketers – even feeding the provincial teams – but it has been using a dusty local primary school’s soccer field for practice sessions.

Read: Batting for a better life

Academy president, Vusi Mathebula, said they have been asking the Mpumalanga Cricket Union to build them a pitch, but funds are still being used in well-resourced academies in towns.

Mathebula said that the union was also failing to pay for transport costs and he has been using his own money for the cricketers to attend matches. They always play away because they do not have a pitch.

Malekutu is the only cricket development academy training black cricketers in the Ehlanzeni region – which encompasses towns such as Nelspruit, Malelane, Komatipoort, Barberton, Lydenburg, White River, Hazyview and Bushbuckridge.

The academy trains 160 boys and 26 girls, and 20 of its players from different age groups play in the provincial teams. Some have received scholarships in prestigious schools. In June, nine Malekutu players were selected as part of an amateur South African team that competed in Portugal.

“They’ve to be fair with us. We see them spending money, but for seven years they’ve failed to build a ground in Malekutu,” Mathebula said.

City Press has seen emails in which Mathebula has been complaining about their plight to Cricket SA members this week, and one of them, sent to Cricket SA’s transformation and member relations executive, Max Jordaan, suggests that there was racial discrimination.

Mathebula wrote: “The union also gives out a provincial U12 name list congratulating the boys making the provincial side and this list is divided in to two WHITES and COLOURDS (sic)!!!! No apologies from the union, this shows racial discrimination at its worst.”

He also complains that the provincial union recently spent more than R390 000 on improving other cricket academies’ pitches, buying furniture, burglar-proofing and fencing, but no equipment was provided to Malekutu, even though they are listed as having benefited.

Mpumalanga Cricket Union general manager Jaco Visagie declined to comment.

“Cricket SA has asked for certain documents regarding this matter ... until they get all the facts I’m not allowed to make any comments,” Visagie said.

Cricket SA spokesperson, Altaaf Kazi, said: “We’re doing everything to find out what the problem is and what causes the lack of communication between the association and Malekutu. If there’s anything wrong we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

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