Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Awarded the best Centre of Excellence for five consecutive years, the Kroonstad Hub is the pride of Free State cricket.
Based in Seeisoville, it has been known to produce more ‘elite’ black African players in the province than most of its counterparts.
The Hub / Regional Performance Centres (RPC) programme is a key part of the Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) development pipeline, striding each year to unearth talented youngsters from within the country’s non-traditional playing communities.
And the Kroonstad version is doing its best to do exactly that, with many young boys and girls, having successfully graduated thus far – amongst them being Thandekile Plank (SA Rural Clubs), Thabiso Lekhooana (Cubs Week), Sello Sesing (Cubs Week) and Monica Mofokeng (FS Senior Provincial Women).
Under the guidance of Head Coach, Jeffrey Seleke and his assistants Andrew Matsela and Tshediso Lesia, the Hub has built up an active database of 105 learners, who come primarily from its 10 affiliate schools.
Like most of the other Hubs throughout the country, the coaches spend parts of their week at these schools working with learners and helping them grasp a better understanding of cricket. Those who stand out are then brought back to their headquarters where they have more tailored coaching programmes. They have daily schedules for each age group and that allows them to nurture the talent of these youngsters even further.
“We have done really well in the last few years and continue to unearth some really talented young players in our region,” Seleke says.
The Hub is also strongly aided by the government’s National Youth Service (NYS) project.
“It’s really helpful towards the Hub program as the three coaches alone cannot cater for the whole community of 14 primary schools in our region,” the coach continued. “So we have 30 more cricket coaches to help us to identify talent, especially at the schools we are unable to reach.”
The KFC Mini-Cricket programme then plays a key role at the Hub.
Seleke said: “We have interschool league matches that are played in from Under-9 to Under-11 age groups for both boys and girls. During the course of these matches, the Hub coaches also gets
involved to help the schools and get the opportunity to identify players through to hard-ball or Hub program.”
Learners are also aided academically through the CSA School in the Box initiative. This is an intervention offered at some Hubs where tutors are assigned in an after-school programme aimed at providing the identified cricketers in the community support with their education.
Seleke himself was appointed to his current role in May last year having been there for six years prior when was serving as assistant coach.
The 29-year-old began his journey in cricket at the start of the 2007 academic year, the second day of secondary school. He recalls immediately falling in love with the game and played it from U15 level up until matric when he was subsequently chosen to represent Free State U17 Rural. As a coach, his first role was at Voorwaarts Primary School in Kroonstad where he worked for two years, before moving to the regional Hub, which he believes is doing wonders for the game.
“It is really making a significant difference in impacting lives of the kids around disadvantaged communities whereby they are getting to experience different environments and learning about other aspects of life, such as social and mental, through sport itself,” he added.