Siya Sibiya is the new Central Gauteng Lions U19 and Academy head coach charged with heading the elite youth programme of what used to be the Gauteng Cricket Board and is well qualified for the job, writes THEO GARRUN.
He hails from Cape Town where he played for the Western Province Cricket Club and coached the province’s U15 and U17 teams, as well as being the assistant coach for the Khaya Majola Week team before becoming head of the provincial academy and assistant to Ashwell Prince with the senior provincial team.
His move up north was partly motivated by the fact that his wife is from the region and currently working in Pretoria, but he also said he was ready for a new challenge.
In Joburg, his role will be to head the academy and coach the U19 team at the Khaya Majola Week, but also, he says, to establish relationships with the schools and universities in Joburg to ensure that the most talented players can develop to their potential, and to ensure that none of them slips through the cracks or is lost to the province once they leave school.
‘Gauteng has been leading the way at school level in recent years, so there is obviously a lot of talent here, and great systems in place,’ he said. ‘My role will be to build on that, and I am very excited about it.’
His philosophy, he explains, is not solely based on winning matches.
‘It’s important to win, of course, but developing players is the priority. The academy has to deliver players that can fit in with the kind of cricket that Gauteng wants to play and we have to ensure the players are enjoying the experience so they carry on playing the game and are not tempted to leave the province.’
Cricket South Africa’s Player Management Plan is available to all the provinces now and it will be used to record and monitor the players at the schools from now on.
SAcricketmag.com met Siya at King Edward School last week where he was watching the home side play St Stithians.
‘There is a lot of talent on display here,’ he said, ‘and not all of these boys are going to make provincial teams. Communicating with those players, and their parents, is going to be an important part of my job. I have to assure them that they remain part of our plans and encourage them to keep them playing the game. That’s what’s going to make this a winning province.’
Photo: Theo Garrun