We’re committed to creating an inclusive environment, says Proteas Women’s coach Hilton Moreeng
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CAPE TOWN – Proteas Women’s cricket coach Hilton Moreeng has stated he has always tried to create a team environment “where everybody can feel comfortable to be themselves”.
The spotlight is firmly on all national cricket teams after a week where black ex-Proteas highlighted allegations of systemic racism and exclusion encountered during their careers at Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation-building (SJN) commission hearings.
Although it has primarily been former Proteas Men’s players taking the stand, there was also an emotional testimony from Nolu Ndzundzu – the first black African woman to represent the Proteas Women's team.
Ndzundzu spoke about the humiliation she felt after being told that speaking in her home language of Xhosa in front of her teammates was “rude” despite other national team members conversing in Afrikaans which she did not understand.
Moreeng, who is the longest-serving black African head coach within CSA’s national team structures, is cognisant of this dark piece of South African cricket history never repeating itself under his watch.
“We as coaches, and management, the best we can do is try to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone,” he told the media on Wednesday.
“In our country there are 11 languages, cultures within cultures, it is very difficult to know when you’re stepping on toes. We therefore have to make everyone understand firstly why we are here, and who we represent.
“I think once that is clear then everyone can feel comfortable to be themselves. That is the most important thing. If everyone can feel they’re contributing to a whole in terms of the betterment of the team, then the environment starts to create a space where everybody wants to be in and wants to do well.”
Moreeng acknowledges that keeping an entire squad – particularly the non-playing members – content all the time is challenging. However, he does promote discussion and debate on any issue within the team.
“When there are challenges, we will discuss it. Hence we have those culture camps. We have check-in meetings to see where the players are,” he said.
“From a coaching perspective, you can't be everywhere all at the same time. It is very difficult to always keep tabs on those things, but if there is a hiccup, you create the opportunity for players where they feel that they can raise their concerns where it must be addressed immediately.
“Ultimately it needs to be an environment that showcases their talent when representing their country. It is the biggest dream to play for your country and win a World Cup for your country.”
Moreeng is currently preparing his team at CSA’s High Performance Centre in Pretoria in preparation for a proposed tour of the West Indies next month.