Momentum Friendship Games – Bloem match a resounding success for the Free State

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 10: Friendship teams Rocklands Hub and Grey College during the Momentum Friendship Match between Grey College and Rocklands Hub at CASA Field, Grey College in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 10: Friendship teams Rocklands Hub and Grey College during the Momentum Friendship Match between Grey College and Rocklands Hub at CASA Field, Grey College in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

GREY COLLEGE is known not only for producing a surfeit of Springboks; it is also known for its cricket prowess and producing two Proteas, captains in Kepler Wessels and Hansie Cronje.

After last weekend, the Bloemfontein powerhouse may well be indirectly known for having helped lay the foundation to produce first-class and international cricketers in previously unexplored areas of the Free State such as Kroonstad, Botshabelo and Rocklands.

This is after Grey hosted a Rocklands Hub team made up of players from the three Free State areas in the second Momentum Friendship Games match, which was held last Friday in Bloemfontein.

The tournament is an initiative between partners Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Momentum, to up-skill young cricketers from previously disadvantaged areas by pitting them against traditional cricket or former Model C schools.

Kroonstad, Botshabelo and Rocklands were combined, as the Hubs/RPCs sometimes do when playing the traditional cricket schools, while Grey put out a combined team of their under-14 and under-15s for the fixture.

With the emphasis always on making friends in the sport and growing in the cricket sense, as opposed to the final result, CSA Cricket Services Manager Edward Khoza again reiterated the point of playing the games.

“The big issue for me is what happens off the field,” he said. “Getting more parents to support their children has a major impact on their performance. This match will forever live in their minds – for both the kids and their parents.

“This programme is touching so many lives and people don’t instantly see the impact. If you ask how many parents who have kids playing in hubs actually come to see their kids play regularly, it’s not a lot. We are actually creating a culture where parents support their children more.”

Khoza also touched on the significance of what took place on the field: “These games help us identify the skills gap – from here the coaches will be able to go back and fix areas that had glitches. It creates cricket awareness for the coach.

“Come the next match, the hub team will come back improved.”

Rocklands coach Pena Motsoane agreed: “This is a great opportunity and an eye opener for the boys. The game will get them to test their skills against a good team, and this will help them identify areas where they need to improve.

“I want them to grow mentally and to learn to adapt to different situations. This is kind of exposure is great for the boys, I am happy to see them playing in this kind of set-up.”

Grey College coach Ruan Dercksen said his team found out as much about themselves as they did about the opposition in what he described as a competitive match.

“The boys played really well, the Rocklands Hub played a very competitive game.” He explained: “Both teams played a good game, they showcased their skills and most of them seem to really know where their strengths lie.

“We challenged a few under-14s as well, and you can see that the opportunity for them to play with the under-15s has given them a boost of confidence.”

Free State Cricket president and CSA Board Member Zola Thamae opted to look at the big picture as well as the future: “We are satisfied with the growth of the hubs and RPC programme. We are happy with opportunities that are presented to the boys, for example.

“Some of them will get spotted during games like this and be presented with bursaries to study at good schools,” she concluded.

The next Momentum Friendship Games match will take place in Alexandra in Johannesburg when the Alex hub hosts St Stithians on Wednesday afternoon, 15 March 2017.

The match starts at 14h00 and will be played at Alexandra Cricket Club, 410 Eastbank Avenue, Eastbank, Alexandra.