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Ken Borland

Standard Bank jump in at grassroots level to ensure decent opportunities for all 0

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Ken


That there is enormous cricketing potential in this country is generally accepted, but due to a variety of reasons, it is tough for Cricket South Africa (CSA) to ensure all our communities get decent opportunities to play the game.

CSA’s development programmes are one thing, but what happens next? How do those talented young cricketers in the outlying areas then get to play enough decent matches, how are they transported to matches, what facilities do they have with which to hone their game? Are they given the love of cricket and then just left to their own devices?

CSA identified these problems and came up with the idea of hubs and regional performance centres (RPCs).

The RPCs have been a heck of a success in ensuring it is no longer the case that talented young cricketers from disadvantaged areas are lost to the system due to socio-economic circumstances. And, in tremendous news for South African cricket, it has been announced on Thursday that Standard Bank, the headline sponsors of the Proteas, will no longer be focused on just the pinnacle of the pipeline, but are now making a major contribution at grassroots level with their sponsorship of the RPC programme.

The implementation of the RPC programme means CSA are now making great headway in terms of building relationships with communities and local municipalities. And now this progress will be accelerated thanks to the support of Standard Bank, who have added this vital development initiative to their naming rights sponsorship of the national team.

“Standard Bank has been a key supporter and sponsor of the Proteas for many years and by sponsoring the RPCs we hope to develop the immense cricketing talent we have in our country.

Budding young cricketers in many outlying areas are still in desperate need of facilities and coaching, and this RPC in Soweto will assist in helping these players fulfil their true potential and turn their dreams into reality,” Vuyo Masinda from Standard Bank said at the launch of the new deal at the Dobsonville RPC in Soweto on Thursday.

There are RPCs in all nine provinces, with each having several hubs in their stable acting as feeders. Having a centralised venue dedicated to nurturing the disadvantaged talent in the vicinity allows CSA to pour resources into it, ensuring there is adequate infrastructure with which to develop quality cricketers.

Girls and women’s cricket is also included in this programme.

The quality of coaching is also of the greatest importance and each RPC must have a head coach who is Level III certified and an assistant coach who is Level II certified. The Hubs must have a head coach who is Level II certified and an assistant coach who is Level I certified.

The feeder system for the Hubs starts with the KFC Mini-Cricket programme and, thanks to the Momentum Friendship Games, the Hubs and RPCs get to play against the leading schools in their area.

Some of the franchise players who will be acting as mentors for the programme include Omphile Ramela, Malusi Siboto, Khaya Zondo, Mangaliso Mosehle and Temba Bavuma.

Springboks are genuine contenders … with genuine problems 0

Posted on August 04, 2015 by Ken


Last weekend’s thrilling Test against the All Blacks showed that the Springboks are genuine contenders for the World Cup, but they have to be able to produce their best play for 80+ minutes and they also have to be clinical in taking points from whatever opportunities are presented to them.

A team has seldom dominated the All Blacks in almost every facet of play as much as the Springboks did at Ellis Park last weekend, but the Kiwis showed why they are the undisputed number one side and the favourites for the World Cup by somehow still engineering a victory. They did this by being ruthlessly clinical – the few chances they had to score, they took.

You know a coach is feeling the pressure when he makes 25 excuses in a dozen minutes at his post-match press conference, but there’s no doubt the last fortnight has been hugely frustrating for Heyneke Meyer as his Springbok team have shown such potential before faltering at the final hurdle in successive Tests against Australia and New Zealand.

The Springboks are injury-hit and they are not getting the crucial 50/50 decisions at the moment, but the bottom line is that they have shown a disappointing lack of composure when matches reach the critical final quarter.

In fact, the abiding feature of the Heyneke Meyer era has been the infuriating tendency of his team to play both sublime and mediocre rugby in the same match.

Solving this problem before the World Cup is obviously critical and I hope Meyer will be looking at a very interesting book which was launched this week – Creative Rugby by Dr Kobus Neethling and former Springbok captain Naas Botha.

Neethling is very well qualified in the field of brain skills and creativity and he says the book may answer the question why South Africa does not win the Rugby Championship way more often than three times in 20 years given that we have more players than New Zealand and Australia put together and wonderful talent to choose from.

As Botha pointed out at the launch, it’s very clear in this professional age that what makes the All Blacks better than the rest is what they have between their ears given that the science is there to make all international players as strong and as fast as each other.

The great flyhalf’s main gripe about South African rugby in general is that we go very overboard on game plans. He told horror stories of players who have come to him and said their coach, even at franchise level, came and told them that if they don’t put the ball under their arm and drive at the first channel then they will find someone else who will. Botha blamed the devolution of Morne Steyn from a creative, all-round flyhalf into someone considered now to just be a kicker on the strictures of game plans.

The authors added that teams need to have game plans, but that these are just a springboard because matches are fluid and sides that are stuck in their plan and can’t think on their feet don’t win.

Neethling said the work he did with Paul Treu when he was the Springboks Sevens coach proved very quickly how effective using creative thinking and knowing the brain profiles of your players can be.

The fear of losing is a very strong force in South African rugby, mostly caused by impatient fans and administrators, and it causes coaches to stick to what they know best.

When the Springboks were very close to the All Blacks’ line last weekend, against 14 men, why did they keep trying to bash through with the forwards and not try Damian de Allende, who had been bumping off defenders all game, charging through on an angled run?

The difference between the New Zealand and South African mindsets becomes very clear when you consider the local reaction to Richie McCaw’s match-winning try: instead of applauding the creativity and skill behind a clever piece of rugby, excuses were quickly sought in the law-book, trying to label the move as illegal.

I am happy, however, that Meyer is trying to innovate and is desperately trying to get his players to play what is in front of them. He drums in the importance of decision-making at every opportunity, but at times he must wonder if he has inherited from the pipeline the rugby equivalent of the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman from the Wizard of Oz …




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