Rondebosch Boys KFC Mini Cricket coach Lenore Ciolli has been coaching the U9 side since 1983, and has seen the programme grow exponentially.
After being involved in the programme for 34 years now, Lenore is one of the longest-serving coaches in the country, and had the honour of handing over the Man of the Match award at the 3rd T20 International between the Proteas and Sri Lanka at Newlands on Wednesday.
The KFC Mini Cricket programme, which currently has over 114 000 kids from 5 500 schools and coached by over 9 000 volunteers, had humble beginnings, and Lenore is testimony to the growth of the programme since it started in the same year that she did.
‘It was difficult to keep the kids happy and entertained back then, but now it’s highly organised and everything runs smoothly,’ Lenore says.
Lenore didn’t know too much about the sport when she started, but she was excited to try it out and volunteer. Initially there were only four schools active in her area – Rondebosch, Bishops, Sacs and Wynberg – but now it’s grown to 14 schools and 318 kids.
‘When the kids come to Newlands and they see it on TV it becomes more interesting to them and they become enthusiastic and inspired to play,’ she continued.
Lenore, who has helped Western Province cricket with everything from ticketing to managing teams, coached the likes of Jonathan Trott and Andrew Puttick at U9 level and has seen them go on to establish successful domestic and international careers.
‘It keeps kids off the street and keeps them occupied. It gives them something to do and they love it. That’s why I love doing it; I love watching them develop.
‘The general growth has increased so much because so many schools have caught on,’ she concluded. ‘It’s easier to play than normal hard-ball cricket, because the softer ball means you can play on any surface.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images