Hilton and Midlands cricket bonanza

Fatima Asmal

Township and Rural Cricket Development Tournament under way

The KZNCU, DSR and Sunfoil Township and Rural Cricket Development Schools’ Tournament to take place in the KZN Midlands from today to July 7 got under way with a launch event at Hilton College on Wednesday night (July 4).

The tournament features an impressive 24 teams from Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and for the first time ever, Lesotho.

A contingent of 400 – including U15 and U19 cricketers, coaches, selectors, scorers, umpires and other personnel – will be based at Hilton College during the tournament. Most fixtures will take place at the school, while others will be played at the Pietermaritzburg Oval and the Weston Agricultural College in Mooi River. Both 50 over and T20 games will be played.

“We have come a long way since 2008, when we had only 10 townships from the eThekwini district competing against one another in Durban,” said Sanelisiwe Kuzwayo, KZNCU Township and Rural Development Manager.

“Accommodation was not provided for the teams and they had to travel to and from the fields each day.”

Kuzwayo attributes the growth of the tournament to support from its sponsors, namely Sunfoil, the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, Sports Development Trust and others.

Top class facilities

“We have also made Hilton College – with its breathtaking setting and top class facilities – our home of choice, making the tournament all the more exciting for participants.”

Heinrich Strydom, chief executive officer of the KZNCU echoed Kuzwayo’s sentiments: “An event like this will not be possible without the support of incredible partners,” he said.

“I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Sunfoil for their continued commitment to this incredible event, and I would also like to sincerely thank the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation.”

“Thank you also to all other partners.”

At the launch event in Hilton on Wednesday, Strydom urged all the boys competing to use the week to improve their skills, learn from their colleagues and rivals and get to know the other boys at the festival. He said what happened and was learnt off the field could be just as important as the contestation on the pitch. Lifelong friendships had been forged at the tournament over the years.

Level of competitiveness

Sandile Hlongwa, a selector at this year’s tournament, has been involved in every edition to date. “It has changed dramatically since inception,” he said.

“The level of competitiveness and the standard of playing has improved greatly and our KZN township and rural teams have become better and better with time.”

Eight KZN township and rural teams will feature and cricketers representing them will be hoping to impress a team of 12 selectors will be on the lookout for exceptional talent to include in the township and rural development programme’s elite squad.

The squad benefits from high performance training, fixtures against traditional cricketing schools and constitutes a base from which talent is identified for provincial trials and possible scholarships at premier cricketing schools.

Two of the latest additions to the South African U19 team, Mondli Khumalo and Thamsanqa Khumalo featured in the tournament not so long ago, and Andile Mokgakane who represented the country at the U19 World Cup in New Zealand last year, will be there this week, captaining the Esikhaleni U19 team.

More information can be found at www.dolphinscricket.co.za.

Main picture: Anesh Debiky/Gameplan Media