Young cricketing talent praised

2018-07-18 06:00
From left: Bongi Sithole-Moloi, KZN MEC for the Department of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation; and Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo, KZNCU Township and Rural Development manager, celebrate with KwaMsane, the U15 winners of this year’s KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament.PHOTO: supplied

From left: Bongi Sithole-Moloi, KZN MEC for the Department of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation; and Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo, KZNCU Township and Rural Development manager, celebrate with KwaMsane, the U15 winners of this year’s KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament.PHOTO: supplied

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ASPIRING cricketers were rewarded for their dedicated teamwork and on-field skills at the closing ceremony of the KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament, held on Saturday, July 7, at Hilton College.

A number of prizes were awarded to deserving cricketers from 24 U15 and U19 teams, with KwaMsane taking the main prize for U15 and Esikhaleni winning the U19 contest in the tournament which ran from July 4 through to July 8.

Now in its 11th year, the Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament is a joint venture by Willowton Group, the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union Township and Rural Development Programme, and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation.

The tournament hosts youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds residing in townships and rural areas like Osizweni, Ngonyameni, Folweni, Inanda and Esikhawini, as well as hub teams like Sweetwaters Hub, ILembe Hub, Reservoir Hills Hub, Chatsworth Hub and uMlazi Hub. This year, there were four teams from outside provinces as well as one international team from Lesotho.

“We have been really amazed by the undeniable display of raw talent at this year’s tournament, which was a tremendous success,” said Shoaib Moosa, Chief Commercial Officer of Willowton Group. “The tournament has grown in leaps and bounds from its humble beginnings in uMlazi, when it featured mainly Durban-based teams. This year we welcomed not only provincial representatives but a national side as well.”

Shoaib Moosa said the tournament has become a symbol of sporting excellence, with affiliates Cricket South Africa and coaches from across the country using the performances displayed throughout the tournament as a yardstick to evaluate progress.

“The presence of the MEC of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation at the presentation gives further indication that the government is offering optimum support at grassroots level to develop cricket countrywide,” concluded Shoaib Moosa.

KZNCU township and rural development players are selected after a rigorous trials process held across KwaZulu-Natal. The tournament is then played in the 20/20 and 50 overs format, with a total of 48 matches played throughout. Boys who show particular skill can apply for bursaries and scholarships to top cricketing schools. Certain players are also identified to join the high-performance programme which runs within this development setup.

This year’s tournament came down to an exciting finish in the U15 final match between Gauteng and KwaMsane with Gauteng scoring 118 all out, allowing KwaMsane to go on and win by an impressive eight wickets. In the U19 final game, Esikhaleni took on the Western Province team with Western Province finishing with 110 all out, and Esikhaleni chasing down the target with four wickets to spare.

Commenting on the KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament, Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo — the manager of the KZNCU Township and Rural Development Programme — said: “The tournament went very well and really achieved the goals I’d anticipated.

“Our boys usually play only 20 overs, because of the lack of facilities in our townships, however, playing at Hilton College gave us the opportunity to play a longer format of the game.

“This gives our boys exposure to the national format and a chance to show off the talent they have,” Kuzwayo said.

She said the boys were excited to be hitting centuries and half centuries as well as taking a bigger number of wickets — all of which revealed their skills.

“Another highlight for me was having the MEC attend the event,” continued Kuzwayo. “It was very humbling as we realise she has a very busy schedule. It was also great to have representatives from Willowton Group at the tournament.”

Kuzwayo extended gratitude to the sponsors, including the Sports’ Development Trust, stating that their donations meant a lot to the children, most of whom came from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This year saw the inclusion of the “Fair Play Award” which allowed the children to realise it’s not just about winning, but about playing as a team and learning the discipline of the game. This is entrenched by the coaches who, by extension, take on many other roles to support these youngsters. All coaches received fully equipped “coaching bags” which will assist them in future coaching. The top KZNCU township and rural coaches also received a R 500 cash prize each.

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, congratulated all those involved in the success of the tournament.

“This is such a far-reaching annual event that has positively impacted the lives of thousands of children from disadvantaged communities. It has a proven track record for uncovering and developing quality sportsmen and women over the years, and the skilled performances these past four days has, once again, revealed some upcoming sports’ talent.

“We are committed to supporting programmes such as the KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament which are bringing about effective transformation in sport,” Sithole-Moloi said. — Supplied.

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