Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp from the Proteas women’s cricket team lent a helping hand, as Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) joined forces and decided to celebrate Mandela Day this year by giving back to its cricket structures.
They joined at least 50 CSA and GCB staff, including players from the Proteas men’s side and the bizhub Highveld Lions, who descended on Alexandra Cricket Club to contribute to the project, which included renovations to the clubhouse, change rooms and grass embankments.
At the same time, a 67-minute KFC Mini-Cricket festival was held, which saw over 200 budding cricketers being coached by their heroes, while enjoying cricket in the winter sun.
Van Niekerk was full of praise for the initiative, saying: “I had a wonderful time here with CSA giving back to the sport that we all love. I think parents should continue encouraging their children to give something of themselves – not just on Mandela Day, but every day.
“People need to remember that it’s not only about giving materialistic things to other people, it’s about giving time, a comforting hug or even a home-cooked meal to someone without,” said Van Niekerk.
The move to upgrade Alexandra Cricket Club is a timely development following the club’s promotion to play Premier League Cricket this season, and comes after a revival of cricket in the area, thanks to concerted efforts from the GCB.
CSA CEO Gerald Majola said: “Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to cricket, and was a vital part of the unity process 20 years ago. It is wonderful for us to honour his life by participating in Mandela Day today.
“Alexandra Cricket Club has just recently been promoted to play Premier League Cricket in Gauteng so at least we know that our 67-minutes will go a long way in uplifting cricket in this area. I would like to thank everyone who came out in support of our initiative and hopeful everyday going forward will be a Mandela Day.”
GCB CEO Cassim Docrat said: “Today was a truly special day for Alexandra Cricket Club. One of our main aims at the GCB is to uplift the previously disadvantaged cricket areas in Gauteng and to do such a selfless act on Madiba’s birthday makes this occasion so special. We will continue to harness our rural cricket areas to make sure legacies like this continue throughout our region.”
In 2010, CSA partnered with Cheese Kids for Humanity, a broad-based volunteer movement. Cheese Kids organize events and activities that encourage young people in those areas to volunteer for community service or civic duty, to fundraise for social causes and to promote activism and environmentalism.
CSA head office staff and members of the Proteas team, including fast bowlers Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rusty Theron, joined the Cheese Kids family in Berea to help paint the girls’ hostel at Nkosi’s Haven in Berea.
CSA was supported by its key commercial partners Sedgars and KFC in making the day a success.