Locals bat for kids

The cricket community, with the help of locals, is coming together to transform the lives of learners of Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele.

Their plan to develop a sporting structure at the school is headed up by Fish Hoek resident and former cricketer Vince van der Bijl.

As a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) world cricket committee – with other influential cricket names such as Mike Gatting, Derek Brewer and Ricky Ponting – Van der Bijl realised the club had the potential to do good beyond their existing charities.

Van der Bijl connected with Sporting Chance – which runs development and coaching clinics – and Masicorp to develop the project.

Masicorp is a non-profit organisation working in Masiphumelele to uplift the community, with a focus on education and keeping vulnerable youth off the streets and away from crime, drugs and gangs.

The school, which is home to 1860 learners, was initially built to accommodate 450 learners.

With insufficient resources, the school has only one physical education or sport coach, one netball court and a short running track for over a dozen teams playing five different sports.

“I went to visit the school,” says Van der Bijl, “and I saw this child skipping across the netball court just full of the joy of having a uniform and being able to go to school. I looked at this haven of learning and decided to do more than just cricket coaches.”

Working with Masicorp, the MCC has pledged start-up capital over three years, which will be used in two phases. The first phase will focus on the development of a sporting structure – this will include the employment of a sports administrator, two extra coaches and a range of equipment such as kits for the five sport codes played at the school.

In the second phase, planned for 2020, another three artificial surfaces will be installed along with a secure parking area.

The project will not just be funded by the MCC, as Van der Bijl hopes to mobilise locals to sustain the project over the long term.

“I decided it should be a community project, not just funded by [companies].”

Van der Bijl aims to get at least 750 donors to commit to a donation of R100 each a month, to build on the MCC’s donation of R870 000. The project was introduced to possible donors at an event on Tuesday at Café Roux in Noordhoek.

Masicorp spokesperson Paul Giess says: “Through his cricket contacts Vince has secured the MCC funds specifically to construct cricket nets. This is needed as the children currently have little equipment and no space to train. They currently play on the running track.

“With his help we aim to secure further funding to establish full facilities for all the sports and to fund more coaching staff.”

“We hope to double the size of sports participation,” Van der Bijl says. “Kids love sport and it develops their confidence.”

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