SJN Hearings: Facilities critical if cricket wants to properly transform
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JOHANNESBURG – The gap between the haves and the have nots was made clear during Tuesday’s testimonies at Cricket SA’s Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, as a direct link was made between transformation and the lack of proper facilities.
Officials and coaches from clubs based in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, outlined for the SJN ombud, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza the importance of CSA working closely with government and the private sector to ensure it not only widens the net in terms of finding more talent, but just levels the playing field for those from poorer areas.
“To give any child the chance to play at the highest level it comes down to, facilities, facilities, facilities,” said Ajit Gandabhai, a founding member of the Sacos affiliated Transvaal Cricket Board in the pre-unification era. Gandabhai is currently chairman of the Azad Swaraj Sports Club, which is affiliated to Randburg Cricket Club.
Gandabhai illustrated how clubs remained critical to development, and also community upliftment, and how local government in particular had failed to provide the necessary support for clubs, particularly in historically black areas.
Gandabhai pointed to the 2019 protest in Lenasia over the poor work done by the Johannesburg council at the Tech Grounds in that neighbourhood as one example of the massive gap that existed between how local sports bodies were treated in that area, compared to historically white neighbourhoods.
“If you were to conduct a similar kind of hearing into other sports like, rugby, tennis, soccer and the Olympic sports you will find that the first complaint will be about facilities,” Gandabhai explained.
Sandile Lukhele, teacher based in Mpumalanga, who travels nearly 70 kilometres each day to work at a school in Altona, KwaZulu Natal, told the SJN hearings a similar tale, but from a rural perspective.
“Our youngsters are playing on dust bowls, with no nets,” said Lukhele, who coaches young girls from the towns and schools he finds in the area. “Because we have no nets, it hampers development and compromises the kind of player we try to produce for the province.”
Lukhele said that from his perspective, cricket has not transformed. “I don’t think the game is transformed. The vast majority of black players still play on these dusty grounds, with no hope of getting a facility any time soon. Yet (the players) are expected to perform at their best should they make provincial teams.”
“If Cricket SA is serious about transforming the game, they should start by levelling the training field. Let a child that lives in Sandton, a child that trains in a proper cricket net, compete with a child that trains in Entumbane (suburb in Piet Retief) in a dusty street, let them compete in one team, after, you have given Entumbane the same facility that the child in Sandton has.”
While Lukhele said he didn’t know who should build that kind of facility, he felt CSA needed to work in conjunction with local municipalities. Ntsebeza, in his summation later agreed. “Local municipalities, that is where the government of the people starts,” he said.
“There should be some measure of coordination and it starts right at the beginning, the educational institutions, from where people go to school and obviously to institutions for higher learning.
“It starts right at where the government starts, the lowest level of government, the government of the municipalities. Sport should not be given no place… I know of certain municipalities where sporting facilities have been discontinued, land that was allocated before apartheid (ended) to sporting facilities, tennis, cric, rugby soccer, all utilised for something other than sport.”
The hearings continue on Wednesday.