Before the Proteas take on England in their two-match T20 international series, the KFC Mini Cricket Kids will have a go at them, as they do battle at Newlands on Thursday.
The KFC Mini Cricket kids from St Andrews in Langebaan have been chosen as the lucky bunch to play them, and they will be defending their title after beating the Proteas last year. They will fancy their chances as Graeme Smith, Neil McKenzie and Mfuneko Ngam team up as assistant coaches for the boys.
This is just one of many exciting projects that the KFC Mini-Cricket programme facilitates. KFC has been a sponsor since 2010 and will continue their partnership until 2025. Since then, the programme has grown by 32% and there are now over 110 000 kids who participate in the programme. There are over 8 000 volunteer coaches who get the kids active, while over 4 900 schools are enrolled.
Mini Cricket forms a critical foundation step in the development of South African cricket, as the kids from all corners of the country and from all walks of life get involved to fall in love with cricket. The key factor in getting kids interested is that they’re taught how to play from a young age with a soft ball before progressing to the harder ball.
‘Four years ago we introduced pre-schoolers from the age of four and girls got involved, too. At that age the soft ball was far more appealing which enabled more kids to get involved,’ said CSA Mini Cricket manager David Mokopanele.
Taking it beyond this stage has been problematic over the years, but steps have been taken to ensure the progression from the soft ball to the hard ball is smooth.
‘Our greatest challenge over the last couple of years has been getting the progression to the hard ball right,’ Mokopanele continued. ‘We’ve made sure that all cricket unions across the country have held annual festivals, which have allowed us to identify talent. The best 40 players from each festival are then channeled into hubs to ensure we never lose the talent.
‘A couple of years ago, over 60% of the Proteas were brought up playing mini cricket, and 90% of the women’s team last year played mini cricket, so it is evident that the programme is paying dividends.’
CSA general manager Corrie van Zyl shared the sentiment that Mini Cricket has improved significantly over the years. ‘There’s a huge increase in the number of black Africans playing cricket, and this has stemmed from Mini Cricket,’ he said. ‘If it wasn’t for this programme, then I wonder how we would have got kids involved. The great thing about Mini Cricket is it’s a modified game so facilities aren’t a concern. It’s just about getting kids to fall in love with the game.
Come and cheer on the KFC Mini-Cricket kids on Thursday, give your kids the chance to meet their cricketing heroes and get active at our KFC Mini-Cricket Preparation Zone. The match starts at 14:00.
There are also prizes on offer, with two KFC Mini-Cricket kits for a school team to give away. The winner gets the opportunity to donate the kit to a school of his/her choice. Look out for it in the next edition of SA Cricket magazine.