Dolphins CEO Heinrich Strydom is hoping to take the union to new heights. Photo: Supplied

Heinrich Strydom has crammed more into the past four months of his life than most people can spread over a few years.

Get married - done. Become a CEO of a major South African brand by 35 years of age - done. Move from the solitude of Potchefstroom to the sea in Durban - done.

It has been a lot to take in, but the smile is never far from the lips of a man who has left his mark wherever he has gone in his administrative career. They have nothing but positives to say about him in Gauteng and surrounds, because he is a man who rolls up his sleeves, and gets the job done.

“It has been a hectic four months, and things are just starting to settle down,” Strydom said this week.

We meet the night after yet another abandoned match at Kingsmead, but Strydom remains tremendously upbeat by what he has already experienced in Durban.

“There is a hunger here for the game, and that crowd that turned up for our opening RAM SLAM game was very pleasing. In fact, some of our vendors even sold out, even though people didn’t see a ball of cricket.”

Accordingly, Strydom has advised his match day suppliers to ensure that they cater optimistically in the future. He wants to leave no stone unturned at a place that he sees as a sleeping giant in South African cricket, a franchise with significant potential.

“The big thing that has stuck out for me already is the incredible feeder system that we have through the township cricket programme.

Everyone just sees the main tournament that goes to Hilton College, but there are actually 40 hubs operating, with over 60 coaches, and thousands of young players who are very keen on the game.

“We need to really tap into that, and make sure that we capitalise on that incredible system, because I am sure it is unique in the country,” Strydom beamed.

To that end, Strydom is engaging corporates around the city to try and get a hand to keep those early flcikers of potential burning into something brighter.

Having played a handful of first-class matches for North West, Strydom understands just how difficult it can be trying to get people from different backgrounds to get on the same page. One of his first acts as the boss in Durban was to extend an invitation for the KZN Inland union to bring its entire staff and players down to Durban, to meet their Coastals counterparts. “When we went through the organogram, we quickly realised that there were some people who do similar jobs, but had never met each other. There were people in Maritzburg who had never set foot in Kingsmead, so we saw an opportunity to engage,” he explained.

While the players - including Dolphins - practised around the ground, the various departments from the offices had workshops, before everyone came together for a braai and a warm-up game for the amateur sides at Kingsmead, ahead of the Africa Cup. The umbilical cord between Durban and Maritzburg, which can sometimes seem longer than the 90km that separate the two cities, was instantly reattached.

KZN cricket has long been a conundrum, a conflicting mix of potential and politicking, but Strydom insists he has been met with nothing but kindness and well-wishing in his early days. “It has all been very positive, and I think that is because we all want the same thing, ultimately. We want a strong cricket system, and it is important we all work towards that together,” he said of his relationship with the KZN Cricket Union.

Of course, success for him in his five-year tenure will also be measured by the hosting of international matches, as well as the Dolphins dominating on the field.

“I have never actually seen a Test in Durban,” he lamented. “So I am really looking forward to the one in March, and also hosting the international matches against India. "

The lad from Potch has made a home for himself in Durban.


Sunday Tribune

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