Youth development hit for a six

2020-03-03 06:00
The Protea Legends.PHOTO: Stephen Booth

The Protea Legends.PHOTO: Stephen Booth

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Forget DC’s Legends of Tomorrow; the Protea Legends proved to be the real superheroes when the 11 professional cricket players gave of their time to raise awareness of young developing cricket talent during the Sasfin Cape Town Sixes held last month.

More than 100 teams participated in this year’s three-day amateur sports event held at the Western Province Cricket Club in Rondebosch from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 February.

The tournament, billed as the biggest sixes tournament in Africa, is open to everyone who would like to enter a team. Besides the junior leagues (schools and junior clubs), there was also a corporate cup (for businesses to enter) and six-a-side soccer and tag rugby.

But, as always, the star of the tournament was the professional cricket team called Protea Legends who competed against different teams in matches spanning the three days.

The squad of 11 players, namely: Nantie Haywood, Wayne Tharrat, Pierre Fourie, Darren Green, Brett Shultz (manager), Johann Louw, Ryan Bailey, Martin van de Merwe and Renier Lourens, took turns to run out on the field as rolling substitutes in the six-a-side format. Their biggest match by far, however, was the showdown against the #HitPovertyForASix team, made up of six celebrities on Sunday.

The celebs – including Meyrick Pringle (SA Legend), Jonty Rhodes (SA Legend), Ryan Marron (West Indies fielding coach), Ryan Christian (Hit Poverty for a Six), Nik Rabinovitz (comedian), Rob van Vuuren (comedian), Sean Young (Cape Town Sixes), Martin Tucker (Cape Town Sixes) and Aubrey Martyn (manager) – took on Protea Legends. Predictably, Protea Legends won by three runs.

But the real winner was Hyacinth Primary School in Lentegeur.

Sasfin donated R240 for every six hit in the match to JP Duminy’s latest project, #takeasquarecampaign, dedicated to upgrading a school field, requiring 2 000m² of grass, at the school.

There were 17 sixes in the 12-over game.

Duminy played a match on the Saturday before flying off to the United States of America (USA). At the tournament, he expressed the urgent need for more events of this kind and the backing from the government and corporates. “We are trying to uplift our communities and the game of cricket.

But we need infrastructure, nets and facilities, in the rural areas as well, and we need people to buy into our vision.

“We also need a focus on coaches and to give them enough support to develop those players. If we do that we will see kids coming out of their communities, making something of themselves. Thank you, Sasfin, for investing in this amazing opportunity,” Duminy said.

As part of the initiative Hit Poverty for a Six, the Protea Legends coached 26 pupils from Ukhanyo Primary School, in Masiphumelele, on the Sunday. The young players participated in a coaching session in the nets with Pringle, Schultz, Haywood and Martyn, and a separate fielding session with Jonty Rhodes.

Ryan Christian, a spokesperson for Hit Poverty for a Six, says it’s been a privilege to witness and be part of the amazing work done in sports development.

“Originally, the 2 000 Ukhanyo learners only had one PT teacher and limited facilities. Now, with the support of former cricketer Vince van der Bijl and his MasiCorp750 initiative, the school has a growing sports programme.”

Van der Bijl explains: “When we started, there were no fields, no kit, nothing. Now we have 19 coaches and eight sports (of which seven are played by girls to help with gender non-discrimination).”

Van der Bijl says the purpose of the project is to build a rainbow nation. “It’s about bringing residents together to build a new South Africa. At the moment our country is torn and it requires healing, which will be achieved by the next generation.”

The junior leagues, held on the Friday, was won by Western Province Cricket Club (u.11) and Big Oaks (u.13).

Michael Sassoon, CEO of Sasfin, concludes: “Seeing South African Legends, teachers and coaches come together to raise awareness of the rising talent in this country has made the time, effort and investment completely worthwhile. This is how we can make an impact, by coming together. As Jonty Rhodes said in his coaching, ‘Just one run can make the difference in a World Cup’.”

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