Photo Credit: Lions Cricket
Pride, passion and professionalism were the key ingredients for a year in which Lions Cricket celebrated on and off field wins. The 45th AGM last night which was held at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium reflected a season of growth, achievement and an unrivalled desire to be bigger, better, best come the 2022/23 season and beyond.
Perhaps it was the DP World Lions women’s player Ayabonga Khaka’s significant wins at the recent CSA Annual Awards where she was named SA Cricket Player of the Year and Players player of the year as well as other DP World Lions players in Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Sisanda Magala, Mitchell van Buuren and more that set the tone ahead of the Central Gauteng Lions AGM. Perhaps it comes down to the admirable work ethic of the Lions Family pride members as all members unite towards a common goal of building Lions Cricket together. The achievement of success is most certainly the culmination of teamwork from top to bottom, first ball to final delivery, all in the name of nurturing and developing the game and its people within the great Province that Lions Cricket serves and represents.
Whatever it is, Lions Cricket appreciates, acknowledges and admires all role players in their valued eco-system. Highlights from the 2021/22 season include:
– Retaining the CSA One-Day Cup trophy;
– Multiple awards and nominations at the Gauteng Sports Awards and CSA Awards;
– Significant national team representation on all levels;
– Level 2 B-BBEE contributor status;
– Only Union to have all provincial teams (U16 and U19 boys and girls teams) play in the ‘final’ at the CSA National School Weeks;
– Unbeaten Academy and Colts teams throughout the past season;
– A successful launch of the winter Club Cricket T20 competition,
– The retention of our current wonderful sponsors and the attraction of new ones; plus so much more.
Perhaps the greatest win though is that for the first time since 2017, the Central Gauteng Lions (CGL) has been able to declare a net profit for the 2021/22 financial year, so says CGL President Anne Vilas who is currently serving her third year at the helm of Lions Cricket;
“This is a commendable feat, especially considering we have not been able to sell an international ticket and have any significant number of fans enjoying our stadium and the matches played since February 2020. This turnaround was only possible through a very disciplined approach to spending, and a commitment across the Board to making decisions that ensure the long-term sustainability of Lions Cricket. I commend our CEO, Jono Leaf-Wright, and his team, for working tirelessly to find other revenue streams for the business.”
The 2021/22 season was a challenging year, starting the season with a zero allowance of in stadium fans which then eased to just 2000 fans in October 2021. In March 2022, in the dying days of the cricket season, came the announcement of welcoming back 50% of fans into the stadium but by that time all international fixtures were completed, and cricket was not able to enjoy the increased allowance of fans back to its matches.
As a result, says Lions Cricket CEO Jono Leaf-Wright, the focus had to shift towards growing revenue streams beyond ticket sales, and a dedication with ‘out the box’ thinking had to apply right across the Lions Cricket eco-system;
“The Pandemic called for a change in order to survive. We had to continuously produce winning teams and thrilling cricket, further develop our pipeline and people, all built on the three principles of Choices, Governance and Longevity: We had to Dream Big and do so with pride, passion and an unmatched professionalism. We remain committed to transforming people’s lives beyond the game and whilst change was embraced, we endeavour to always place the game we love at the forefront of all that we do.”
In conclusion Vilas believes that the Union has the foundations for a better future, with transformation at the forefront;
“I would like to commend the management team for the efforts they have made in paying close attention to the way in which we engage suppliers and make decisions. Through a conscious effort to find ways to improve our commitment to broad-based black economic empowerment, we managed to move from a level 4 B-BBEE contributor to a level 2 contributor this year – a significant achievement.”
CGL would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all shareholders, sponsors, schools, clubs, officials, fans, Cricket South Africa and everyone involved in cricket for their ongoing support and commitment to working with the Pride and realizing the vision for cricket in our special and wonderful Province that Lions Cricket is so proud to serve and represent.