Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Cricket South Africa (CSA) has in the past three weeks been sharing compelling stories of the traction that cricket is garnering at grassroots level. Seen as the cradle of the cricket ecosystem, these stories document the hunger for playing game and the life-changing intervention it brings, on and off the field.
The stories also tell captivating tales of CSA’s commitment to the principles of access, inclusivity, and excellence, anchored on the quest to make cricket the sport of choice across the country.
CSA’s Regional Performance Centres (RPC) and Hubs are the heartbeat of the pipeline, identifying talent and driving the development of cricket from the ground up. It is through these structures that CSA is able to make inroads in attracting participants, and enabling access to the game, while ensuring that the transformation of cricket is firmly rooted.
Reconfigured and restructured in 2015, the RPCs and Hubs were a response to lack of cricket facilities in disadvantaged and rural schools, leading to very few young South Africans playing the game. The refocused RPC and Hubs are now geared to develop, and channel identified players to the hardball structures.
Whilst the Schools Cricket programme remains on track, the RPC and Hubs has allowed access for township schools into the system. A total of R17 million was initially invested which has resulted in 70 operational RPCs and Hubs in disadvantaged communities all around the country.
Although not a primary target, the programme has already gone on to produce well over 100 male and female provincial cricketers from previously disadvantaged areas – this would not have happened without CSA’s strategic intervention.
The stories of these RPCs and Hubs are presently being told through a weekly feature titled ‘The Humbled Forum’ through which CSA highlights the outstanding work that people on the ground are doing to aid the cricket pipeline. ‘The Humbled Forum’ documents the rise of aspirant cricketers. It chronicles the commitment of administrators to the development of the game, the lives that cricket changes, and the passion it invokes.
Commenting on the stories being told, CSA’s Head of Cricket Pathways, Edward Khoza, said:
“One of the key targets for CSA has always been to grow the player-base and to ensure that there was more meaningful access for kids coming from disadvantaged environments.
“Although a work-in-progress, I believe this has been achieved significant success and this programme has played a meaningful role in the development of the game. There have been so many stories through the years that recount the glowing success of the programme and how it has helped changed lives.
“We have seen so many families benefit on top of individuals in some way or the other. However, these stories were not publicly told. I am pleased that the energy that is being invested into growing the game is now being put in the spotlight in a meaningful way.”
CSA Chief Executive Officer, Pholetsi Moseki said:
“Stories emanating from the grassroots are a humbling reminder of what CSA is about. The lives that have been changed through the game, and the talent that has been identified and nurtured strongly suggest that cricket is a national sport of winners.
“Our investment in the RPC and Hubs is yielding positive dividends beyond our expectations. CSA now boosts cricketers who are household stars, who have been nurtured by this system.
“These beneficiaries will, through the ‘The Humbled Forum’, be sharing stories of the impact of the game in their development, personal and otherwise. Cricket does change lives, and it is our responsibility to mirror those interventions through telling these stories.”
Welcoming the CSA story-telling initiative, the Chairperson of the CSA Board, Lawson Naidoo said:
“Sport has over the years proved to be a unifier of note. It is a language that transcends all barriers. Cricket is no different. The initiative to tell our own stories attests to CSA’s commitment to grow the game. It offers the public a glimpse of where we come from in terms of cricket development, and certainly paints a picture of where we are headed. These stories humble the soul.”