Momentum Proteas Team Manager, Sedibu Mohlaba’s greatest ambition is to see the national women’s cricket team build on the success of recent years by winning an ICC World Cup title.
In 2017, Mohlaba joined the Momentum Proteas and has played a vital role in the national side’s growing achievements globally.
This Seshego-born sports all-rounder has been involved in the sport from the age of 10, and played throughout his schooling career.
He built on this solid platform by venturing into coaching while studying Financial Management at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and currently holds a Level 2 coaching certificate issued by Cricket South Africa.
Mohlaba’s passion is to uplift the women’s side of the game in the country from grassroots to elite.
He believes that there is endless talent in the country, pointing to the current squad, with 10 out of the 14 contracted players having plied their trade in the Women’s Big Bash League and the BCCI-run Women’s Challenge.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Mohlaba reflects on his playing days and how it shaped his cricket career to date.
Sedibu, thank you for chatting to gsport! Please tell us about you and what your role in sport is.
Hi Celine, thank you so much for the opportunity first and foremost with regards to this interview. My name is Sedibu Mohlaba, born and bred in Seshego, Polokwane in the Limpopo province.
I have been involved in cricket basically my whole life. I got involved in terms of Sport Administration and coaching from 2010 after graduating from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. I have a BTech in Financial Management and I have a Level 2 coaching certificate from Cricket South Africa.
So, I have basically been involved in sports through various roles in Sports Administration where I worked at Limpopo Cricket for a good five to six years and in various capacities where I was involved as a club administrator and did the finances in an amateur manager role. I was also once a board member for the organization before I actually moved into working full time.
I am also a father of one. I have a little boy.
Please tell us about your life growing up…
I matriculated at Capricorn High School and then moved to university in Port Elizabeth. I was raised by a single mom, and there was three of us in terms of siblings – I am the last born of the three. I can’t fault anything with regards to my life growing up. I could say that I got granted opportunities as best as I can think of.
I played cricket at school and in the township. I also played club and provincial cricket. I also played soccer, but I mostly focused on cricket.
Where does your passion for cricket come from?
So, one of my cousins was one of the teachers who got roped into the Bakers Mini-Cricket back in the day. There was always equipment at the house and that was where it ignited a passion and obviously watching it on TV.
“I would try to emulate the cricketers when I played on the dusty roads.” – Momentum Proteas Team Manager, Sedibu Mohlaba
And, going to multi-racial schools / Model C’s as they are perceived, cricket was one of the sports that were offered so I took it up together with soccer. From the age of 10 until matric and a bit of university, I played cricket throughout.
I played most of my cricket with the Proteas Men’s strength and conditioning coach, Tumi Masekela. We grew up together with the passion of one day representing South Africa and, yeah, we are doing it in different facets now with his S&C with the men’s side, and me managing the women’s team.
Together we also played club cricket with Volvo Masubelele who managers the men’s team. So the three of us come from the same cricket club – the Seshego Cricket Club.
We always looked to try and get opportunities through the game of cricket and seeing what it could offer us.
Was it always your plan to get into the sport as a career path?
Honestly speaking, growing up obviously having played provincial cricket every year, the drive was there to make cricket a career in terms of being a player. But then things don’t always work out the way you want them to.
So, I decided to take another direction to study Business and Finance because I like numbers. Through that I met a very good friend of mine at varsity who was doing strength and conditioning. He had to do practicals and he had chosen to cricket as a sport that he would do his research on.
He ended up at a cricket academy in Port Elizabeth and he suggested since I have a passion for cricket that I go along with him to see if I could score a job there as well.
That is where I got back into cricket big time. I started coaching and it brought a lot of joy in me and to see the kids that I was coaching progressing, getting better and how enthusiastic they were coming to my lessons. It gave me that passion to coach. I went back home after graduating and getting a job was not easy and I volunteered to work at Limpopo Cricket where they were short-staffed.
“I saw the shortfalls of the company and I was willing to assist without pay. I did not have much going on then and that’s where I got into Sports Administration.” – Mohlaba speaks on his introduction into the sport industry.
I went in and helped as best as I could at the time. Eventually, I started working full-time after being voted on the board. I saw the shortfalls of the company and I was willing to assist without pay. I did not have much going on then and that’s where I got into Sports Administration.
I eventually got back into coaching and did my levels. I started coaching U11’s, being an assistant coach and manager because of my financial background in terms of helping with budgeting, projecting expenses and seeing how best the company can save money. I played a dual role and I really liked it because I was always busy.
We know that you are involved with girl’s cricket. What attracted you to women’s sport?
I saw women’s cricket coming up at the time I was at Limpopo Cricket. I saw a gap because not a lot of people focused on women. I thought to myself that I would give it chance because everyone has an interest in coaching men’s cricket. I did a bit of research and see how best I could assist in terms of growing the girls game in the province.
That’s how I got involved in the women’s game where I saw a gap and tried to help and also improve the structures of women’s cricket in Limpopo. I coached the U16’s and U19’s for a good three to four years.
We had good times, and I was happy with the growth that I could see taking place. Obviously cricket is cricket, that’s how I treat it, and that is how I have treated the ladies. It’s not gender related, and they need to apply the same skills-set as what the guys do, and they are doing it quite well.
One of the things that attracted me to this particular industry was that I wanted to grow as an individual, and also grow the sport.
What are some of the challenges you have seen being involved in the women’s side of the game?
One thing I can say from challenges is that people take women’s sport for granted. And, just like anything other product, I believe it needs investment and over time it will get better and it will grow, which is what is happening now with more coverage/exposure that women’s sport in general is getting.
Women are capable and by showing that, it will make other kids want to take up sport as a career. I think that’s what needs to be portrayed out there that you can make a living in sport. You just need to apply yourself as an individual with regards to discipline and hard work to make everything better.
What is the current state of youth cricket and how can it be improved?
In terms of youth cricket, I think we are looking good. We are looking good in a sense that a lot of cricket had been played prior to the current situation with Covid-19 which has impacted sports in general. Hopefully after Covid dies down or gets better, we will see amateur cricket get back.
In terms of women’s cricket, we are getting better as you can see structures are being put in place for the women’s game in South Africa.
“The recent establishment of the WSL where you are getting local players playing with top international players which will hopefully bridge the gap between international and domestic cricket.” – Mohlaba on how to improve the state of youth cricket
At the same time, you can also see there is a bit of introduction of younger players in the national setup, so that being said it will help in terms of, one, getting the girls interested and two, bridging the gap and improving the state of the game.
I believe in one thing and that is the more you play, the better you get. So, we need to make sure that the youth, meaning both girls and boys, need to play as much cricket as possible to develop their skills.
How did you get involved with the Momentum Proteas?
I managed the SA side in 2016 on their tour to Zimbabwe and then Australia. I think through those tours I did something great and working under the Cricket South Africa High-Performance structure, I was asked to get involved with the women’s team in January 2017 for the Bangladesh tour. One of the managers pulled out for various reasons and I was roped in to assist based on my experience. So, that’s how my involvement came about and I was retained after reapplying for the position.
What are your views on the team and the amount of success that the players have been able to achieve?
I think we have done well if I look from the time since I have been with the team. There has been a lot of hard work done by the team as a collective and also from Cricket South Africa’s side where we are playing a lot more, hence I said earlier, the more you play, the better you get. The team has done tremendously well looking at where women’s cricket is in the country and we are looking to get better. The amount of success that the players achieved, kudos to them for putting the hard yards.
There’s a lot of planning and sharing of our vision with the players of what we want to achieve has been part of the team’s success. The buy-in from them is also key and the results speak for themselves.
If you look at our recent series in New Zealand early in 2020, which unfortunately a lot of people didn’t get to see, the amount of planning and execution that came about from the players for us to win three-nil away from home was a joint-effort from everyone.
It just showed that if we all pull in one direction, we can achieve a lot. This mentality also rubbed off onto us going into the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.
Who are some of your favourite women cricketers globally?
I would say that the Momentum Proteas team are my favourite cricketers globally. I am a patriot in that sense, and you can see with the amount of talent that we have, seeing 8 of players playing in the recently concluded Women’s Big Bash League and two in the IPL. That’s 10 out of the 14 contracted players playing internationally! Hopefully we get more players involved in these international tournaments. This shows that the skill is there, and people are recognizing their efforts and talents.
What are some of your highlights being involved in sport?
I would say travelling around the world. It’s one thing we take for granted but we are privileged in terms of us getting to see different countries and that is where you get to appreciate your country as well. If you don’t travel, you don’t know what is out there. So, the more you do travel, the more you get to understand the different challenges that we don’t face in this country.
Also, the joy of seeing someone succeed after enduring difficult times.
What is your greatest ambition?
My greatest ambition is to see women’s sport getting the same exposure that will lead to the same financial muscle as the men. I think it will eventually get to that point.
I also want to be part of the South African Women’s World Cup winning side, which is something we are putting hard work into achieving
Photos caption: Momentum Proteas Team Manager Sedibu Mohlaba. Images: Supplied