Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Growing up in the newly-born democratic South Africa, he tried hard to make an impact as a cricketer without much success.
Then a promising all-rounder, Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Non-Independent Director, John Mogodi – one of the youngest members of the Board – was part of a game that was trying to change its deep apartheid roots.
Despite his struggles all those years ago, it was difficult to blossom in a system where quotas played a major role in almost every sporting code.
Now 39, the Limpopo Impala Cricket (LIC) Vice-President, Chairman of Sun International Meropa Casino, a successful accountant, financial expert, project manager and a youth pastor, is trying to make things better for young South Africans wanting to play the game.
“Those were interesting times,” he recalls. “Quotas were, and still are, very much a very sensitive issue for all those at the receiving end of them.
“In my first provincial week as a kid, the rules were that each team needed to have one black player in their squad. It was an Under-11 week in Klerksdorp and we played five games. I was 12th man in four of the games and then I was given a ‘so-called’ chance to play in the final game, I as an opening batsman came in to bat at number eight and I didn’t bowl.
“The next year was not much different and as the years went by, there were new quota balances that were introduced and it really wasn’t a nice thing.
“You were not selected based on your expertise or skill and that was the worst part of it. I’ve never been a fan of these quotas because they never dealt fairly with anyone. In terms of quotas then, it’s been a really sad journey, but at the same time where we are now, there’s been a lot of progression.”
Polokwane-born Mogodi has lived cricket almost his entire life. His love is so passionate that even his wife Palesa knows that cricket is his first wife.
A father of three young boys that are also plugged into the sport, he says: “I became interested in cricket right from the beginning when it was introduced in primary school. I absolutely loved the sport and from there went on to play it at every age level for Limpopo.”
Mogodi’s progress through age level cricket meant he also had the opportunity to represent his province at university, but the opening batsman and medium-pacer opted to move to Pretoria to study.
After graduating at the University of Pretoria, he married and moved back to Polokwane where his passion for cricket was reignited once more, first at club level before joining the provincial ranks which led to him becoming head of the union.
Under his leadership since 2013, Limpopo Impala Cricket (LIC) achieved a major goal last year when they became a fully-fledged CSA affiliate.
Mogodi currently sits on the Finance, Audit and HR committees at CSA and has set himself some major targets to hit.
“The big thing for me since I’ve come onto the Board is that we need to improve the finances and see how best we can plan to relieve any financial stress that CSA is
experiencing,” he stated. “I believe strongly that once the coffers are taken care of, development can also be taken care of.
“So my hopes and dreams are for the organisation to become financially stable. To get there, we need our new T20 league to take off next year. With this league, we will hopefully become financially stable once that first ball is bowled and that is great news for us.
“Coupled with this is our World Cups that are coming up. We need to do well in these competitions and you will notice that one of the best teams in the world, the Proteas don’t have a title sponsor. My short-term priority is they must have a name on that shirt before they go to the World Cup.
“I’m also involved with Rural Cricket South Africa (as a Treasurer) and this is something close to my heart. It’s where you see the real cricket pipeline in areas where you’d never hear of. Just seeing this area of cricket get better will also be satisfying.”
And despite his qualms with quotas, Mogodi is nonetheless pleased overall with how the game has changed 30 years on since the end of apartheid.
“Cricket really has been at the forefront and trailblazing in terms of what needed to be done to transform the sport,” he adds. “It has spent more money than any other sport to try and transform the game. We can always do more to get even better but overall, it’s made unbelievable strides.
“Two things we need to do; one is telling our stories and two winning a World Cup because we saw what that did for the Springboks and if we can do the same, it will go a long way to changing the perception of the game.
“What we want is for six, seven and eight-year-olds of all races and backgrounds to get into a healthy system, a racially non-divisive system and to flourish. You don’t have to play for the Proteas, but enjoy the game in a strong and healthy system,” Mogodi concluded.