Creating healthy alternatives for township communities
Former South African opening batsman Gary Kirsten didn’t only do great things on the cricket field – he is now training young kids with the hope that one day, one of them might line up for the Proteas.
The World Cup winning coach of the Indian cricket team, who played 101 Test matches and 186 One Day Internationals for South Africa between 1993 and 2004, founded the Gary Kirsten Foundation in Cape Town. The foundation focuses on creating quality sporting infrastructure that is safe and accessible to people in the townships.
“South Africa has such a rich sporting culture and has produced many great cricketers. However, there is a lack of Black African cricketers being represented in the South African domestic, first-class and international cricket structures,” Kirsten said. “Unfortunately the general state of outdoor practice facilities in most townships are not able to provide for the needs of aspiring township cricketers or youngsters who are interested in the game of cricket, and this is what the Foundation is actively working to change.”
Cricket Clubs and schools located within township areas are central to the success of aspiring youngsters who wish to become professional cricketers.
Some of the projects either completed or underway include net installations and coach development for the township cricket development initiative, to planning South Africa’s first complete artificial cricket field, developing a groomsmen training programme and community sports hubs.
In Khayelitsha, the Foundation has 227 active players both male and female from five schools, training under seven coaches for a combined total of 18 hours each week. Each school is provided with artificial cricket nets, kit bags with equipment for the team and a full-time cricket couch, trained by the Gary Kirsten Cricket Academy.
When all the nets, bats, balls, pads and helmets are not in use, they are stored at a branch of JSE-listed self storage company, Stor-Age, which provides the Foundation with a secure storage space free of charge.
“We are proud to play a small role in giving these kids access to health activities, where they are learning a sport as well as life skills such as teamwork. Sport will teach them to be confident and help provide them with empowering opportunities,” said Chris Oosthuizen, Head of Sales, Marketing & Product for Stor-Age.