The Proteas went 2-0 up against the KFC Mini Cricket kids after edging the youngsters by four runs at Supersport Park.
Fleur Primary School were the Proteas’ next opponents in the series as they looked to double their lead after edging Kimberley Islamic School by two runs in a dramatic affair at Newlands last month.
With rain forcing the sides into the indoor nets at SuperSport Park, Fleur Primary School, based in Centurion, would have fancied their chances having beaten the same opposition three years previously. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the Neil McKenzie-led youngsters, with the likes of Chris Morris, Tabraiz Shamsi and Heino Kuhn helping the Proteas to another narrow win.
If you thought the Proteas were going to let the kids off easily then think again. Shamsi admits to SACricketmag.com that he was getting nervous as it went down to the wire. ‘There was a lot riding on it! We got to the last over and there were only a few runs needed,’ says Shamsi. ‘The guys had us huffing and puffing so it was a lot closer than we intended but it was a good day out and a lot of fun. We didn’t have the opportunity to play the Proteas when we were growing up, so it’s a lovely initiative.’
KFC Mini Cricket is the largest grassroots sports development program in the country, with over 14 000 kids and 5 500 schools active who are coached by nearly 9 000 volunteers. Anita van Wyngaardt, a teacher at the school and the one responsible for their successful entry, believes these numbers would be even greater if the parents put in more effort to get their kids involved. ‘KFC Mini Cricket is growing but we’re struggling to get more kids involved. The kids want to join but without the parents they can’t; publicity from the schools will help that. The kids make such good friends on and off the field so it would be a shame for anyone to miss out. They become friends for life so the more kids that get involved the better.’
While there was a serious edge to it, the day was largely about the kids meeting their heroes, and Proteas all-rounder Chris Morris, aiming to be fit in time for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka, tells SACricketmag.com he was delighted to put smiles on the kids’ faces in the hope of inspiring them to have a passion to play the game. ‘It’s always fun to get one up on the kids,’ he admits. ‘It’s a great initiative and it’s nice to see them getting active. I was part of Mini Cricket when I was young and to interact with cricketers is always awesome and hopefully they look up to us as sportsmen. It’s only half an hour out of our day to give back to the kids so it’s a great initiative by KFC and it’s a lot of fun.’