Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week plays a vital role in transformation in cricket

The Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week has played a massive role in transforming cricket in South Africa from the all-white pre-1994 days, through cricket unity, to the current situation where the South Africa Schools team that will be announced at the 2013 week in Durban will, no doubt, be representative of the country’s demographics, without the word “quota” being brought up at selection meetings.

And it hasn’t been by accident. A lot of people at Cricket South Arica, and in the provinces, have been working very hard through the years making it happen, including Khaya Majola himself. The man that the week has been named after was in charge of CSA’s development programme, and he worked tirelessly to bring about transformation.

At the 2013 week was another stalwart of the programme – Greg Hayes. He is CSA’s development consultant in the Eastern Cape and he attends the week as a high performance scout for the Warriors Franchise, to select their side that will play in the CSA Cubs Week in January.

Speaking to him, however, it’s clear that his passion lies in Alice, at the University of Fort Hare where the rural cricket academy that he manages is located.

The academy is a joint venture between the university, a local FET College, Border Cricket and Cricket South Africa and it is a programme aimed at putting promising cricketers through a tertiary qualification while, at the same time, preparing them to become professional players.

“The players stay in hostel and they commit themselves to a holistic process, covering cricketing and life skills, and they get academic and other support to ensure that they complete their studies,” Hayes said.

Mfuneko Ngam is the coach at the academy and other experts, both cricketing and specialists in various life skills are brought in to supplement what he teaches them.

“They play in the local league and in the SA Universities cricket structures, Hayes explains. We have had a lot of success in the five years that we have been going, with players both graduating and being taken up by the semi-pro and professional teams in the provinces and franchises.”

The programme is being expanded by including two traditional cricketing schools in the area –Queens College and Dale College – who are being given financial support and coaching support by CSA, with the aim of getting them to supply players to the academy.

“We take applications from around the country,” Hayes said. “So the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week plays a vital role in the process. There are so many good players of colour at the week and the problem is that not all of them can be accommodated at the next level in their provinces.

“At the week we can identify them and approach some of them and, generally make what we do known.”

“We are concerned that they will be lost to the game when they leave school, so the academy is there to keep them in the game, and at the same time, make sure that they get an academic qualification and can go into adulthood as solid citizens.”

This is exactly what the late, great Khaya Majola would have wanted, and the reason why the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week was named in his honour.

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