On Saturday, 30th April, the Gauteng cricket union hosted over 1000 kids in a KFC Mini-Cricket Provincial Festival at the Lenasia Technical Grounds. This was the first Provincial festival in the region to be hosted after a halt in 2020 due to the Covid19 pandemic and the national lockdown.
The Gauteng KFC Mini-Cricket Provincial festival featured local Gauteng Lions player Tladi Bokako and Women’s Proteas player, Raisibe Ntozakhe.
Both Bokako and Ntozakhe acknowledged the massive impact Mini-Cricket had on their early careers.
“I can honestly say that if it was not for the fun I had playing Mini-Cricket, I doubt I would have reached the heights that I enjoy today,” said Ntozakhe, who recently returned from competing in the Women’s World Cup.
“I started playing Mini-Cricket at six years old. My brother played and I would play with him and his friends. I was fascinated by cricket and chose the sport over soccer, and I have never looked back,” said Ntozakhe. “When my father passed away in 2001, we moved to Alex township to live with my Grandmother and cricket kept me off the street and it kept me focused and happy. I made my debut for the senior team when I was 13, a statistic I am proud of. Cricket is my life and I still have plenty to offer the senior Women’s Proteas team, and that is my current focus.”
This year’s KFC Mini-Cricket programme is all about “Imvuselelo” or “Recovery”, after 2 years of little, and in many cases no cricket.
“This year’s Gauteng KFC Mini-Cricket festival is so important,” said Bryan Patel, Provincial Head Coach at Gauteng Cricket Board. “The theme, Recovery, is what we have dedicated our festival to. The venue we selected, Lenasia Technical Grounds, is symbolic. We are reclaiming the venue since lockdown prevented us playing there and it was taken over by citizens outside of cricket.”
“We are really excited that we can host provincial festivals again,” said Buhle Motshegoa Cricket South Africa’s Mass Participation Manager. “Like everything else in South Africa, the programme was heavily affected by the Covid19 pandemic, so we thought that Imvuselelo is fitting because we are recovering from what we have lost. We are rebuilding KFC Mini-Cricket again as many of the schools have not been competing in the sport. We would like to encourage schools, that are still a little hesitant to playing sport, to get back to the field and play cricket in a safe way, observing all Covid19 protocol. The safety of the kids and the coaches is very important to us,” she continued.
KFC Mini-Cricket provides opportunities for all involved in the programme to grow, develop, and shine. The programme is one of the most significant development programmes in the South African sporting landscape. Its impact goes beyond the game of cricket. It brings youngsters from our diverse country together and contributes to the social cohesion in South Africa.
Since the inception of the programme, some 2.5 million kids have played KFC Mini-Cricket and over 120 players have gone on to play for South Africa in various teams. The programme plays a crucial role in CSA’s development framework, over 2 000 players have been identified in the programme and have been directed to their respective Development Hubs and Regional Performance Centres.
“KFC takes great pride in being able to invest into the youth, making a meaningful difference across the communities we operate in. In the last 12 years KFC, through the KFC Mini-Cricket programme, have been providing an opportunity to change kids’ lives so we are excited to continue with this legacy by starting the cricket ‘imvuselelo’ season. This programme will continue to impact kids’ lives once more as we encourage them to get active, learn life lessons and bring joy back into kids lives by again being able to play the game they love,” said KFC CSI manager Andra Nel.