THE Cricket South Africa (CSA) Momentum Friendship Games finished off their first season with the Alexandra Hub hosting the might of St Stithians College on Wednesday.
Played at under-15 level and in the T20 format, the fixture at the Alexandra Oval Community and Recreation Centre rounded off the recent bout of Friendship Games – an initiative by CSA and Momentum – which also made stops in Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein.
These Friendship Games, which involve a CSA Hub or RPC playing against a traditional cricket school, give the Hubs and RPCs the opportunity to play on a level that allows them to be able to measure their performance against a school that has produced national players.
The game between Alexandra and St Stithians was the last Friendship Game for the season, with the other two having taken place between Gelvandale Hub and Grey High (PE), and Rocklands Hub and Grey College (Bloem).
With the games not all having been played across the same format, CSA and Momentum will now review what format future games will follow. But for the time being, the pilot programme to bring together communities that wouldn’t ordinarily share grounds, coupled with the drive to up-skill the youngsters from the Hubs, has been hugely successful.
Momentum Head of Sponsorship Carel Bosman pointed out that the results in these fixtures were merely incidental, the main focus being the bigger picture.
“At Momentum we’re passionate about communities, we’re passionate about people being active, we’re passionate about families,” he said. “And then of course there’s the bigger picture for us, where we can be involved with cricket from a development level, into club cricket, domestic cricket and international cricket.
“We hope the day arrives when we see one of these guys go all the way through. But of course, sport does much more than that. Ultimately for us it’s what sport teaches individuals about discipline, about team work and all those values, that’s what really excites us.”
Bosman said being at the Alexander Oval, a ground literally built on what used to be a rubbish dump, to watch a Friendship Game, was something of a dream come true for Momentum and CSA.
“A couple of years ago I actually heard (Momentum Head of Brand) Danie van den Bergh and (CSA Head of Commercial and Marketing) Clive Eksteen dream about exactly what is happening here today,” he explained. “To be honest I’m getting gooseflesh as I say that because we’ve always envisaged these communities getting together like this.”
CSA Hubs co-ordinator David Mokopanele said the highlight of the three games had been how well the boys had got along: “The camaraderie has been great, the traditional schools are keen to be part of this and they said they’re looking to do it long-term as opposed to a one-off thing; that’s been the highlight of the initiative for me.”
On the cricketing front, Mokopanele was happy with the strides the Hub players were making.
“You can see by their performance that they’re doing well, they can hold their own and their awareness is progressing.”
Mokopanele reiterated that in his view the way to getting development kids hooked on the sport was through their parents: “The key is to make sure we invite more parents to be part of this. We saw in Bloem that the parent participation was great, that’s the key going forward.”