Cricket crazy

2010-11-11 00:00

IT’S not every day that pupils in township schools are afforded the opportunity to compete at provincial level in a sport such as cricket.

Even more surprising is news of a township schoolgirl who is so in love with the game that she wants to make a career out of it.

That’s precisely the dream Pretty Molefe nurses every time she goes to bed. Pretty (15) is a pupil at Willowfontein Intermediate School and has been selected to participate at the Cricket South Africa U19 Cricket Week in December.

Pretty will represent the KwaZulu-Natal Inland U19 team as the provinces battle it out for the top spot over five days.

Her coach, Mthandeni Hadebe, says the school took the opportunity to introduce the game since to the pupils because cricket is foreign to many of them.

The interest in cricket first gained picked up around 2006 after a University of KwaZulu-Natal lecturer propositioned the Lottery Fund to finance a project that would pioneer the sport at schools in Sweetwaters and Willowfountain.

As a capacity building project, teachers were trained as coaches, umpires, scorers and administrators. They then went back to train their pupils.

“Most of our learners really just jumped at the idea.

“I think that with the likes of Makhaya Ntini becoming a visible figure in the sport, it really helped put legs on the game, which helped us get the learners to buy in because he comes from similar background to them,” says Hadebe.

Cricket has become so popular at the school that it has surpassed football, he says, and it is still the only school that trains girls.

“Week by week we get new learners wanting to try out.

“What is wonderful about sport is the fact that it gets kids off the streets and excited about school. It is also helping them get exposed. Most of our learners come from impoverished homes. They hardly travel as far as Estcourt unless they have relatives there. Most of their parents don’t work,” says Hadebe.

Pretty, who has been playing cricket for four seasons, says she started because she thought she would like it and would be good at it.

She religiously watches South African cricket matches on TV and has become the envy of her friends and neighbours because she has travelled as as far as Ladysmith, East London, Pretoria and the Free State thanks to the sport.

However, Hadebe says funding remains a problem.

“We don’t have proper cricket grounds. We made our own net to train.

“It is hard for us to ask parents for R12 to train in town so we train wherever there is space.”

Many of his players don’t have proper shoes to play the sport.

While cricket can offer an amazing opportunity for girls like Pretty, says Hadebe, for it to be sustainable, the department needs to come on board.

“I don’t think women’s cricket is where it should be and in order to see transformation we want in sport we need to get the kids at school age,” he says.

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