SPORTS development has always been a thorny issue in the South African sporting fraternity. Even worse, was the introduction of those sporting codes that were exclusive to a certain race and class of people…Cricket is certainly one of those sports. Ten years ago, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and KFC joined hands to embark on a journey to discover new cricket talent in areas that was not exposed to the sport before.
KFC Mini-Cricket is the first taste of cricket that aspirant young boys and girls are introduced to. This softball level gives the children the enjoyment that comes with participating in a team sport and also gets them acquainted with the basics of the game, including batting, bowling and fielding. Mini-cricket was the first organised softball cricket game in the world, and has drawn over 2 million children to date.
A few changes were made to certain elements within the programme, including extending the age of girls participating to 13 and the introduction of pre-school mini-cricket for children of four years old. In Cricket South Africa’s bid to make cricket a truly national sport of winners and accessible to all, the organisation also introduced mini-cricket for the differently abled.
“The programme is growing at a rapid pace, with about 40 000 kids joining nationally every year. As Cricket South Africa, this is one of our biggest programmes. And as part of our vision 2025, we set ourselves an annual 5% growth”, said Buhle Motshegoa of CSA.
“The coaches are working on a volunteer basis but the interesting thing is that they are teachers already and are part of the educational system…they are credible people with skills to nurture and coach the kids”, she continued.
There are already players in the SA u/19 setup that came through the programme. Sinethemba Qeshile is one of those amazing stories. In March 2019, he was named in South Africa’s Twenty20 International (T20I) squad for the series against Sri Lanka. He made his T20I debut for South Africa against Sri Lanka on 22 March 2019.
In August 2019, he was named the Domestic Newcomer of the Season at Cricket South Africa’s annual award ceremony. In September 2019, he was named in the squad for the Jozi Stars team for the 2019 Mzansi Super League tournament.
More than 105 000 children participate in the programme around the country, while the number of coaches and schools participating has increased to nearly 8000 and 4 800 respectively.