The KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union department of Rural and Township Development has yet another success story to tell following their 10th KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union, KZN Department of Sport and Recreation and Sunfoil Township Schools Tournament saw close to 300 cricketers from around the country compete at Hilton College from the 30th June to 5th July.
This year’s tournament was a milestone and KZN Cricket Union together with the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation and the Willowton Group have all expressed how this programme has done more than just equipping these young bright minds with cricketing skills, it has also developed their characters.
Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo, manager of Rural and Township Development at KZN Cricket Union said that she could not be more proud of how far they have come with this programme and the difference it has made to these children’s lives.
“I feel very excited and overwhelmed, the 10th year anniversary became all that we have hoped for,” she said.
“Seeing all the brilliant players showing the exciting level of skills that they have acquired, surpassed all that I could ever ask for as this tournament is all about unearthing talent.”
The MEC of Health in KZN, Dr. Sibongiseni Dlomo, who gave a keynote address at the closing ceremony of the tournament, urged the players to respect the sport and never lose focus.
“I have been involved with this programme since its inception and I am amazed of how much it has achieved.
“Today, I say to you, do not take such opportunities for granted,” he said.
KZN Cricket Union interim CEO, Muhammad Seedat also conveyed his message of support towards the success of this tournament.
“I am extremely proud of what I have seen here.
“The players displayed an unsurpassed level of cricketing excellence which gives me hope in the vision that we have.
“These are Proteas of the future,” Seedat said.
According to the Rural and Township Development statistics, this tournament began with only seven coaches, coming from areas such as KwaMashu, Umlazi, Lamontville, Kwadabeka, Inanda, Kwasanti and Engonyameni. However, the number has since grown to 54 with 23 permanent coaches amongst those.
It also started with seven club teams and now has 63.
This programme has also granted bursaries for 30 children in the last 10 years and 64 players, consisting of 40 boys and 24 girls have made KZN Schools and senior teams.
The Deputy Manager for Club Development and Academies at KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, Jay Mannikam, reiterated Kuzwayo’s words with regards to this year’s tournament.
“As government, we are proud to be associated with such a tournament as it gives youngsters an opportunity to better themselves through the game of cricket.
“For us, it is about changing lives and giving opportunities to those that were previously disadvantaged.
“The Township Schools Cricket Tournament unearths talent in the deep rural areas and all of them come to Hilton where we see this talent in the field and it excites us, because we have heard some success stories in the past of players who have gone from this level to playing professional cricket.
“It is money well invested,” he said.
The 10th Township Schools Cricket Tournament U15 champions were the KZNCU, DSR, Sunfoil Invitation XI who beat the KZN Inland Invitation by 5 wickets. In the U19 division the KZN Inland Academy emerged victorious, beating KZNCU, DSR, Sunfoil Invitation XI by 18 runs.