KFC Mini Cricket coach Basid Oomarje has been working tirelessly at Easterns to identify and develop raw talent in underprivileged communities.
Basid is one of many unsung heroes who have been responsible for introducing and developing youngsters into the game, and he was justly rewarded at the second T20 international at the Wanderers by handing out the Man of the Match award in front of thousands of fans.
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. What sets Basid apart from the rest is the time and care he dedicates to his kids on and off the field.
‘First comes the fun, then comes the nurturing,’ says Basid on introducing the kids to the game. ‘But it’s not so much about the skills; I help them out wherever I can, whether it’s to provide them with clothes or with food. Mini Cricket is only eight overs long, so it goes beyond that. You need to be their parent and talk to the boys; it’s something a lot of the coaches lack.’
Basid comes from a humble background himself and knows all too well that the kids need more than just cricket in their lives. That’s why he tells them his story before he coaches them.
‘All of the kids I work with are disadvantaged,’ he says. Most of the boys and girls don’t have parents. I always tell them my story so they don’t feel like their coach is a big shot. I want to show them that I’m down to earth and I never lose hope in them. I just want to inspire them.’
Basid, an RPC coach in Actonville for Easterns, aspired to play professionally when he was young but found his passion in coaching, and over the years, the 25-year-old has seen some of the kids he has coached progress to National Weeks at U13, U15, U17 and even U19 level. ‘The guys who have made it are framed in my house to remind me of how far they have come,’ he says.
One kid who he is currently putting a lot of effort into is Xolani. He was only six years old when he saw Basid coaching cricket and asked if he could have a bowl. The natural talent that he clearly possessed has allowed him to progress to higher quality training, and the pair have built up a father-son relationship.
The first time Basid met Xolani’s parents they were in tears because it was the first time a coach had shown so much interest in their child. ‘I wanted to see what these kids’ lives were like off the field and to see how their situation can be improved, because an unhappy living situation off the field is what takes them away from the sport.’
Basid helps Xolani with his school work and aims to get him in to a good high school through his cricket. This is just one of the stories that the KFC Mini Cricket programme has created to allow these opportunities to come to fruition.