Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Cricket has lost a true ambassador of the game in Mr Advocate Mthetheleli Ngumbela, affectionately known as Bawu Ndlovu. The sport enthusiast, philanthropist and businessman from Healdtown who passed away following a car accident on Wednesday 13 October 2021.
In 1989, Mr Advocate Ngumbela started the Ngumbela Cricket Tournament in his rural areas (Alice and Fort Beaufort) in order remove children from the streets during the festive season. The rural areas residents spent time playing and watching games. The cricket spectators filled up the cricket fields and enjoyed the entertainment and interaction. What inspired him to start this tournament amongst other things was his passion for the game he loved so much and the desire to develop good cricketers who would not be able to make a mark in South African cricket.
He also supported Amacalegusha Cricket Tournament that is held annually from 25 December to 7 January. The Ngumbela Cricket Tournament would start on the 16th December until the second week of January annually. Mr Ngumbela introduced prizes in these Cricket Tournaments to show black people that they could be successful through sport. These tournaments have grown from strength to strength due to the tremendous role he played in ensuring that the cricketers are taken care of. Young aspiring cricketers had such deep love for cricket that the amount of excitement around at the tournaments was something spectacular to experience.
These are well known rural tournaments that have played a massive role in South African Cricket as it’s attested by raw black African talent unearthed in the Eastern Cape. Products of such tournaments include Proteas Makhaya Ntini and Mfuneko Ngam, Eastern Cape Iinyathi players, Jerry Nqolo, Mncedisa Malika, Bhongelwethu Makeleni, Warriors and former Border players Vuyisa Makhapela, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Abongile Sodumo, Yanda Phangabantu, Ayabulela Gqamane and many others.
He also sponsored infrastructure such as clubhouse, pitches, playing grounds, nets etc. Ngumbela Park has also developed a state-of-the art stadium in Healdtown. Indeed, when he said “siyaqhuba rhulumente”, he meant it and lived by it.
His contribution to cricket cannot be quantified, as he touched so many lives, but he will always be remembered for his generosity, passion for the game and determination for getting the job done.
On behalf of everyone at Border Cricket and Eastern Cape Iinyathi we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and community.