Monday, December 5, 2022

CSA: Gelvandale Hub – Steeped in history and scripting new chapters

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Gelvandale Cricket Club is steeped in history and has been at the heart of the game’s development in the Eastern Cape region for more than four decades.

The Gqeberha-based association, now home to the Gelvandale Hub, has been in existence since 1977 and is regarded as one of the leading clubs when it comes to providing opportunities to players from previously disadvantaged communities.

Situated north of the city, distinguished names such as Russell Domingo, Ashwell Prince, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Garnett Kruger and Alviro Petersen have all either represented the club or been graduates of it.

Since 2015, the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Hub programme for the area has been housed at the club and gone on to produce the likes of South Africa junior internationals Jade Smith and Esa Gangat. Other up and coming prospects include the likes of Ethan Frosler, Dayalan Boyce, Hamza Khan and
Ashley Murphy.

Head Coach of the Gelvandale Hub is former Warriors all-rounder Warren Bell, a man that is doing his best to try and bring through the next generation of players of colour from the region.

So far, the 36-year-old, in his fourth season at the Hub, has done wonders too. Earlier this year they won the first National Under-16 Hub Championship held in Tshwane. The competition brought together Hubs from all around the country with Gelvandale going on to oust Tygerberg Hub (Western Cape) in the final.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Heavenly Father for the talent and the opportunities that He’s blessed me with,” Bell says. “Everything comes from Him and without Him, nothing that I’ve done would have been possible.

“Looking back at the trip to Gauteng, it was a good experience for us, and it showed that we are doing something right. It was a proud moment for everyone involved. I am just happy that the hard work we are putting in is bringing through players of colour who are of real quality and who have the
potential to make a big impact on South African cricket in the future.”

The Hub is one of four that fall under the Eastern Cape banner, with eight schools feeding directly to them. They have 98 players currently on their database with these scouted from more than 50 schools that Bell and his teamwork with.

He and his two assistant coaches – Mark Blaauw and Jarryd Lookwhy – work tirelessly with schools in the northern areas of Gqeberha to try and ensure that they give the most talented young boys and girls an opportunity to fulfil their full potential as cricketers.

“We visit schools whenever we can and help out to scout the talent during PE lessons,” Bell explains.

“We are in contact with the teachers who are looking out for players that might have potential. We work closely with them, and this is the first part of identifying the talent within our region.

“We also do go out and watch some of the KFC Mini-Cricket Leagues and competitions where we find further talent. Like I said, we’re in a big area and a lot of work needs to be done to find players. The schools don’t have very good cricket facilities because a lot of them have been vandalised or just deteriorated and never repaired over the years. So, we need to work with the kids at the Hub. We incorporate all of them by having different days for different age groups where they will attend the Hub.

“What we also do is try to nurture the talent of these players, refine their skill and get them in good shape so that by the time they are ready for high school, they are picked up by the better schools or the traditionally strong cricketing schools. We also work on their academics through the NYS
(National Youth Service) where we have some tutors and educators assisting the kids with their schoolwork and this gives them an even greater chance of succeeding at school.”

NYS is a government-related programme that has been established to mobilise the unemployed youth of the country to become active citizens while earning a basic income and increasing their employability.

CSA has its own similar initiative called ‘School in the Box’, which is slowly being introduced at the Hub to give the players a further outlet for their studies.

For Bell, who is currently busy with his Level 3 coaching certificate, both sport and education are important for the youngsters in order to give them a greater chance of success in life.

“If you look at what CSA has created here with the Hubs, it’s absolutely fantastic,” he adds. “It offers so many more people opportunities. This is also a great chance for these kids as they are afforded the best of both worlds. They all know that sport alone is not sufficient. They have to do well at school too and this will give them a chance of making something of their lives.”

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