The 11th edition of the Township & Rural Cricket Development Tournament is ready to roll in KZN.
It’s all systems go for the KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament which will take place in the KZN Midlands from 5-7 July.
The tournament will feature an impressive 24 teams from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and for the first time ever, Lesotho.
A contingent of four hundred – including U15 and U19 cricketers, coaches, selectors, scorers, umpires and other personnel – will be based at Hilton College for the duration of the tournament. Most fixtures will take place at the school, while others will be played at the Pietermaritzburg Oval and the Weston Agricultural College in Mooi River. Both fifty-over and T20 games will be played.
‘We have come a long way since 2008, when we had only ten townships from the eThekwini district competing against one another in Durban,’ said Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo, KZNCU Township and Rural Development Manager.
‘Accommodation was not provided for the teams and they had to travel to and from the fields each day.’
Kuzwayo attributes the exponential growth of the tournament to a generous injection of funds from its sponsors, namely Sunfoil, the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, Sports Development Trust and others.
‘We have also made Hilton College – with its breathtaking setting and top-class facilities – our home of choice, making the tournament all the more exciting for participants.’
Heinrich Strydom, the chief executive officer of the KZNCU echoed Kuzwayo’s sentiments: ‘An event like this will not be possible without the support of incredible partners,’ he said.
‘I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Sunfoil for their continued commitment to this incredible event, and I would also like to sincerely thank the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation for helping us spread the game of cricket to all corners of our beautiful province.
‘Thank you also to all other partners who continue to assist the KZN Cricket Union in achieving its vision of trying to make cricket accessible to all people in KZN.
‘My wish is that every player will embrace this opportunity and use it as a stepping stone towards greater things. To all the officials including the coaches, team managers, umpires and scorers, may you use this event to serve our beautiful game and to inspire our future stars.’
Sandile Hlongwa, who is a selector at this year’s tournament, has been involved in every edition to date. ‘It has changed dramatically since inception,’ he said.
‘The level of competitiveness and the standard of playing has improved greatly and our KZN township and rural teams have become better and better with time.’
‘The cricketers participating in the tournament are excited to be part of it,’ he added. ‘It is quite an occasion for them, and something for them to look forward to. Getting to play at the best of available facilities is a huge plus point.’
Eight KZN township and rural teams will feature in the tournament and cricketers representing them will be hoping to impress a team of twelve selectors, who will be on the lookout for exceptional talent to include in the township and rural development programme’s elite squad.
The squad benefits from high-performance training, fixtures against traditional cricketing schools and constitutes a base from which talent is identified for provincial trials and possible scholarships at premier cricketing schools.
In fact, two of the latest additions to the South African U19 team, Mondli Khumalo and Thamsanqa Khumalo, featured in the tournament not so long ago, and Andile Mokgakane – who represented the country at the U19 World Cup in New Zealand last year – will be there this week, captaining the Esikhaleni U19 team.
More information can be found at www.dolphinscricket.co.za.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gameplan Media