CRICKET South Africa (CSA) and Momentum’s partnership to develop talent at grassroots level took a big step forward on Saturday with the first Momentum Friendship Game between the Gelvandale Hub and Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.
The game is essentially the partners’ efforts at uplifting CSA’s development program by arranging matches between Hubs/RPC’s and recognised and well-established cricket schools.
With matches between elite cricket schools and those from underprivileged areas not played too often, this initiative means opportunities for both sets of players to compete against each other.
Gelvandale is based in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth and has given SA cricket the likes of former Proteas Ashwell Prince, Robin Peterson and current national team coach Russell Domingo, to name a few.
Although Grey High turned out to be the dominant team on the day, CSA’s Mass Participation Manager, David Mokopanele says, results are not the most important aspect of these matches.
“These games are not about winning or losing. CSA and Momentum are hoping that the youngsters establish enduring friendships,” commented Mokopanele.
“The friendship matches are a great opportunity. They bring together teams that wouldn’t normally play against each other.”
Eastern Province Cricket president Donavan May concurred.
“Games like this give youngsters an opportunity to showcase their talent and that is what we want to see,” he said. “We are putting money into programmes like this, to develop talented cricketers from all walks of life.
“We are bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and communities and I am very proud of this initiative.”
Gelvandale Hub coach Robin du Plessis said it was an honour for his charges to play against their Grey counterparts.
“If you ask many of these boys which school they want to attend, the majority of them will say Grey High School,” he explained. “To have them (Grey High School) here playing on our own field was not only an honour, but a true dream come true.
“These Friendship Matches are a great opportunity for the Gelvandale hub team. It is such an honour for them to be able to play a sport they love on their own ground and in front of their own community and families.”
Du Plessis’s counterpart, Neil Bielby, coach of Grey High acknowledged CSA and Momentum for developing this initiative.
“The exposure for the hub is crucial; people that are involved with cricket are aware of the hubs, but the general public don’t know much about them. So these friendship matches will definitely open doors.”
The next Momentum Friendship Match will be played in Bloemfontein on Friday 10 March 2017, when Grey College hosts the Rocklands Hub.