December may widely be recognised as a month for winding down by most, but for the many players involved in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) various national schools weeks across the country it will be the culmination of all the hard work put in during the year.
After months of dedicated practice, matches and trials, the best 13 players will represent their provinces across all age groups from under-13 to under-19 level.
The 2017 edition of the CSA Schools Week, will see the following youth weeks take place over the next two weeks:
December 8-12: Momentum Under-15 Boys Week (Bloemfontein)
December 10-14: CSA Under-19 Girls Week (Port Elizabeth)
December 11-15: Momentum Under-13 Boys Week (Oudtshoorn)
December 13-17: Momentum Under-17 Boys Week (East London)
December 16-21: Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week (Johannesburg)
Niels Momberg, CSA’s Manager of Youth and Tertiary Cricket, said there had been a noticeable growth in the numbers of players who have emerged from the Hub and Regional Performance Centres (RPCs) in the intake for this year’s tournaments.
“There has been a spike of about 30% this year in terms of guys who come from those areas,” he explained. “It’s a nice spike and it ties in with our whole philosophy of giving the kids an equal chance to play the game.”
CSA’s Hubs and Standard Bank RPCs programme, which is dedicated to unearthing cricket talent from previously disadvantaged areas, has done a fine job in up-skilling the kids through coaching and playing, with the Momentum Friendship Games between Hubs and RPC teams and traditional cricket schools helping to speed up the process.
The three weeks sponsored by Momentum will be held in Oudtshoorn (CSA Under-13 Week), Bloemfontein (CSA Under-15 Week, and East London (CSA Under-17 Week).
While for many it’s an opportunity to test their skills at a national level, Momberg pointed out past success stories as a carrot of what might be, if the youngsters perform well: “Last year (all-rounder) Wiaan Mulder was the player of the Khaya Majola tournament, now he’s playing for the Lions and has made his debut for the Proteas.
“Three years ago (Proteas fast bowler) Kagiso Rabada was also playing in these weeks, and he’s been with the Proteas for the last two years. The message is that they are not that far away from playing first-class or even international cricket,” concluded Momberg.
Finding talent for the national women’s team has also been fruitful via the CSA Girls Under 19 week with notable players like Sune Luus, Mignon du Preez, Rasibe Ntozakhe, Ayabonga Khaka and current captain Dane van Niekerk, who are now all regular Momentum Protea players.
Performance may well be a watchword when the best in the country meet, but Momentum Sponsorship Manager Carel Bosman also believes there is much more to the weeks than just match results.
“Momentum shares CSA’s commitment to the development of the game and transformation of sport in South Africa. Through our sponsorship we want to make a meaningful contribution by creating a legacy that has value. This starts with support at school’s level and we want to make sure that there is a journey of opportunity for every talented youngster. Any child with talent and determination should have an equal chance of success, recognition and opportunity.
Bosman concludes. “Setting aside the obvious cricket career prospects, the youth of today will be our future leaders and the lessons learnt on our sports fields will encourage excellence, perseverance, discipline and sportsmanship; great qualities to be carried throughout life. For these reasons, Momentum is very proud to be supporting schools weeks”.