The closing ceremony of the 2016 Sunfoil Township Cricket Tournament held at Hilton College from 28 June to 2 July, saw the eagerly awaited announcement of the 72 best players who have been selected for the six teams set to make up the elite Sunfoil Development squad.
For these talented youngsters, this opportunity could lead to inclusion in the Dolphins Academy and, in the long term, a professional cricketing career.
They were selected from the 336 township players taking part in the tournament in which 12 teams of U15 and 12 teams of U19 players competed in a total of 49 matches in a T20 format over five days.
This is the ninth year running that the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union (KZNCU) Township and Rural Development Programme has staged this increasingly important event in partnership with Willowton Group, manufacturers of Sunfoil cooking oil and margarine, and the provincial Department of Sports and Recreation.
The tournament gives these disadvantaged cricketers the opportunity of competing against other first-rate players in demanding match conditions, which is excellent experience for them and gives them the opportunity to show off their ability to the selectors.
“This event has many benefits for everyone involved,” said Shoaib Moosa, Chief Commercial Officer of Willowton Group. “These youngsters, although under privileged, have shown great talent to be selected to play in the Sunfoil Township Tournament.
“This gives them a further opportunity to improve their skills and chase their dream and the opportunity to become a professional cricketer.”
“For some it is a springboard to a successful cricketing career, for others it is a beneficial and enjoyable journey which will enrich their lives and teach them the advantages of being part of a team while they are involved with this great game.”
“At a tournament like this, we expect the players to rise to the occasion and show us their best game and we were not disappointed,” said Pete de Wet, Sunfoil Dolphins CEO. “We saw some first-rate performances and were impressed by the maturity of many of the young players, as well as their ability to perform under pressure.”
“We were also able to see the many ways that the coaches, selectors and umpires gained from the experience in terms of boosting their skills set and knowledge for the benefit of their own clubs into the future.
“We would like to pay tribute to all the coaches and helpers who worked so hard to make the tournament the success it was.”
There were visiting players from Gauteng, Northern Cape, Border and Western Province this year, fielding four teams in both the U19 and U15 age groups.
The two final matches between the top visiting U15 and U19 teams and the best KZN players in their age group ended in a win for the Invitation Province Township team in both the U15 and U19 matches.
The players left the tournament with mixed feelings as they were sad to see the end of five days of action, fierce rivalry and good-natured camaraderie with players from across the country, but were proud of their achievements and happy to have been part of such an inspiring event.
De Wet thanked the tournament partners and sponsors for their valued contribution to the tournament.
Willowton Group, through its Sunfoil brand, has been the proud sponsor of the KZN Township Tournament since its inception in 2008 and has since gone on to sponsor the Sunfoil Schools Night League, Sunfoil Dolphins, Sunfoil 4-Day Series and Proteas Test Series, as well as offering bursaries for promising young cricketers through its Sunfoil Education Fund.
Other sponsors include: KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, KZN Department of Health, Sport Development Trust & Stratostaff, Cricket South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union, Kookaburra as well as the host venue, Hilton College.