The recently completed Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament offered players an incredible opportunity to raise their game.
Home teams reigned supreme in both the U15 and U19 categories of the KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament, which came to an end at Hilton College this weekend.
In the U15 final, KwaMsane beat Gauteng by eight wickets, while Esikhaleni beat Western Province by six wickets in the U19 final.
SA U19 representative Andile Mogkakane, who captained the Esikhaleni team, was thrilled with the outcome.
‘We set our goals before the tournament and discussed what we wanted to achieve and what the role of individual players were with our coaches,’ he said.
‘Every single person in the tournament was very excited about the win – it was the first final for some of the guys and winning was a bonus as it wasn’t an easy game against Western Province, but we knew what had to do to win – and we stuck to the plans and focused on our goals.’
Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo, the KZNCU Township and Rural Development manager rated this year’s tournament as the most successful one ever.
‘It went very well and we really achieved the goals we’d set for ourselves,’ she said. ‘Our boys usually play only 20 overs because of the lack of facilities in our townships, however, playing at Hilton College, the Pietermaritzburg Oval and Weston Agricultural College gave us the opportunity to play a longer format of the game.
‘This gave our boys exposure to the national format and gave them the opportunity to score hundreds and fifties and take more wickets.’
She added that she was extremely grateful to the KZN Department of Sports and Recreation, the Willowton Group and other sponsors for their ongoing support of the tournament.
‘A highlight for me was having the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Mrs Bongi Sithole-Moloi attend and speak at the closing ceremony and spend some time with us,’ she said. ‘It was very humbling to have her there.’
The tournament ended on a high, with the Sport Development Trust presenting cricketing equipment to the top performers, and specialised cricket coaching equipment to coaches from various rural areas in KZN.
‘Our coaches are very passionate about what they do, but they have to deal with various challenges, one of which is the lack of specialised coaching equipment – this means so much to them,’ said Kuzwayo.
This year saw the inclusion of two new awards: a fair play award for the U15 and U19 teams who displayed outstanding levels of sportsmanship (won by the U15 KwaMsane team and the U19 Gauteng team), and cash prizes for the top KZNCU township and rural coaches and assistant coaches (won by Sphephelo Nhlumayo and Philani Caumbe – Folweni U15; and Lungisani Simelane and Siyabonga Gcumisa, Esikhaleni U19).
Shoaib Moosa, the chief commercial officer of Willowton Group said the tournament has become a symbol of sporting excellence, with affiliates Cricket South Africa, and coaches from across the country using the performances displayed throughout the tournament as a yardstick to evaluate progress.
‘We have been really amazed by the undeniable display of raw talent at this year’s tournament which was a tremendous success,’ he said. ‘The tournament has grown in leaps and bounds from its humble beginnings in uMlazi when it featured mainly Durban-based teams. This year we welcomed not only provincial representatives, but a national side as well.’
For the Western Province U15 and U19 teams, participating in the tournament meant undertaking a 20-hour journey by bus to Hilton College. But it was more than worth it, said Vukile Matakane, the assistant coach of the U19 team, for whom it was a first-time experience.
‘Everything was well organised and planned,’ he said. ‘The boys were well taken care of and I was so impressed by the African talent that I saw.’
Likhona Gxwala, who is part of the U19 team, has participated in four consecutive tournaments to date.
‘We enjoy it so much and learn from the other players,’ he said. ‘We made friends from other teams.’
Darryl Govender, the head coach of the Chatsworth Hub, echoed these sentiments. ‘I’m very impressed,’ he said. ‘If you walked in as a neutral observer, you would not think that this was a rural tournament; you’d think you were at a national week.
‘It was very well organised, we were well catered for, all our demands were met – the KZNCU Township and Rural Development Programme can be very proud of what they have achieved.’
More information can be found at www.dolphinscricket.co.za.
Photos: Fayyaaz Akoob/Gameplan Media