Local icon Hammond desperate to see KZN Inland reach its potential

2010-03-04 00:00

AS icons of local cricket go, they don’t come too much bigger than Tommy Hammond.

The self-confessed servant of PMB development cricket is at it again, and this time his annual Tommy Hammond Sports tour of England will give a few, lucky youngsters the trip of a lifetime.

Hammond plans to handpick promising players who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and they will have their trip sponsored through various fundraisers pencilled in ahead of the departure in June.

“To see how grateful these guys are for everything that they get given is a humbling experience,” Hammond explains of his vigils to the rural areas of the Inland region.

“It is a lesson to those more fortunate than them, and I know that the guys that we are able to take will be great ambassadors, and hopefully they will relay the message to their peers that there are opportunities out there if you are prepared to work for them.”

Hammond also plans to take at least two development coaches along in order to give them exposure to different cultures and conditions.

“It’s just as important for them to see the world, and they have played an integral part in the development of many of the youngsters,” Hammond added.

Hammond’s first port of call is a “Share the Vision” cocktail party at the popular Rockafella’s eatery in the Golden Horse Casino next Saturday night.

The evening will comprise entertainment from Barry Ritson, plus an auction of cricketing memorabilia to help beef up the travel pot.

Aside from the fundraising, though, Hammond also plans to use the evening as an informal platform to engage the greater Inland community on issues concerning the welfare of cricket in this region.

“There is a concern about where we are headed,” warns Hammond, “and people who care about the future of cricket in this area need to come to the table with solid ideas going forward.”

Certainly, the region is rich in potential and infrastructure, but for a multitude of reasons, results — on the field, and also in terms of development — have simply not reflected what this region is worth.

“When you look at the schools around us and the strong legacy of club cricket in this city, we should be flourishing.

“We need to find a new way of doing things, or else I really fear for the future of the game here,” he added with a sense of urgency.

Having worked with countless children in the rural areas, Hammond has approached a number of schools with a view to providing bursaries for those who show potential on and off the field.

He has also called out businesses to step up and back the sport that he dearly loves.

“It is an amateur region, so we need the community to also roll up their sleeves and give a hand.

“In order for this to work, of course, we need to have transparency throughout, because everyone wants to see where their money is going,” he added.

Hammond says pride needs to be restored in the Inland badge, and that can only be done by tapping into the vast reserves of talented youngsters that are churned out each year by the schools’ system.

Full of enthusiasm and ideas, Hammond — like many others who share a passion for the sun-kissed game in these parts — is desperate to see this region realise its full potential.

The time of pussy-footing around issues is no more — it is time for Inland cricket to get its ship in order.

If you are interested or intrigued, get yourself to next week’s indaba.

It’s time for action.

For bookings and any further inquiries regarding next Saturday’s event, call Leah on 033 342 8740 or Tommy Hammond on 072 686 8381. Tickets cost R300 pp, and include a buffet dinner.

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