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Ken Borland



Credit to those who ensure real transformation 0

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Ken

 

Jacques Kallis has controversial views on transformation in cricket that have garnered him negative press in recent times, but what is seldom reported on is how his foundation every year pays for 10 previously disadvantaged children to attend top schools and thus ensure their lives are properly transformed.

Much of what is said and done in the name of transformation is mere self-serving political expediency or empty talk, so Kallis deserves credit for actually making a difference – the Jacques Kallis Foundation gives a full bursary to children who show cricketing talent, as well as academic merit and have financial needs, to attend one of four prestigious schools – Wynberg Boys High, Maritzburg College, Selborne or Pretoria Boys High.

Kallis himself admits that he would never have become the global cricket icon he is were it not for the bursary that paid for him to attend Wynberg, where his incredible talent flourished.

The profitability of these efforts, which have been in place since 2004 when Kallis started the foundation with the R550 000 he received from his Western Province benefit year, is best measured not by the cricketers it produces but by the lives it changes. An example of this is the young man who was given a bursary to Pretoria Boys High after being spotted at the national U13 Week; although the cricket did not work out as hoped, he is now studying his honours in actuarial science.

The Jacques Kallis Foundation is now being amalgamated with the Momentum 2 Excellence Bursary Programme, meaning 26 learners will now have their school fees paid for, securing quality education and a bright future for even more deserving youngsters.

The announcement of the merger was made at the confirmation of something that is the best news for South African cricket in a long time: that Momentum have extended their sponsorship deal with Cricket South Africa for another five years.

The wonderful thing about Momentum’s involvement in cricket is not just what thoroughly decent people they are or what wonderful functions they host, it is that they have invested as much in the grassroots of cricket as in their high-profile title sponsorship of all one-day cricket in South Africa and their groundbreaking support of the rapidly rising national women’s team.

Momentum also sponsor the Friendship Games in which top schools play, home and away, against a combined team of underprivileged schools in their area; all CSA’s junior weeks and development projects focused around the eKasi Challenge.

While some local stakeholders are warning that the massive investment in South African cricket that will come from the T20 Global League might not have an entirely positive effect, nobody will quibble that Momentum’s continued involvement in cricket is a tremendous coup and a feather in CSA’s cap.

As CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “We know what Momentum have done through the years with their huge commitment, from the junior ranks right through to international level. They have been fabulous sponsors.”

The only sadness at the announcement was the news that Danie van den Bergh, the passionate, much-loved head of marketing at Momentum, has a well-earned promotion and will be shifting his focus away from day-to-day involvement with cricket.

He will still, of course, pop into games as and when he can and, considering the size of his personality and the excellence of the staff that remain, I’m sure the cricket family will remain oblivious to much changing at all.

Van den Bergh pointed to a return of more than a billion rand on their investment when he said “cricket has done wonders for us”; it’s only fair to say, Danie, you and Momentum have done wonders for the game.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170916/282527248605439

Uganda putting initial suspicions & tragedy behind them to embrace rugby 0

Posted on November 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Having gone through the agony of a young player tragically dying on the field and initial suspicions about the game, the Uganda Rugby Union is now seeing a rapid rise in interest at schools which can only be good news for a country that has enormous unharnessed talent.

Yusuf Saidi Baban, a player with Nile Rugby Club and student at Jinja Senior Secondary School, died following a Uganda Cup game against Buffaloes in July 2013. There had already been some resistance to rugby being played in schools with the perception being that the game was not “godly” because it was rough and the ball was passed backwards!

But since then, there has been a dramatic change in attitude, thanks to the hard work of the Uganda RU and the support of WorldRugby’s Get Into Rugby programme and the private Bhubesi Pride charitable initiative.

“WorldRugby obviously give us their usual grants and help with training and education, but their Get Into Rugby programme has been very good for us. Since 2014 it has gone into really remote areas that have never seen a rugby ball and we are beginning to familiarise the game at schools,” Uganda RU president Andrew Owor said.

“We now have 248 primary schools playing rugby, mostly non-contact through the Tag Rugby Trust. But we are running up-skilling programs alongside that and Uganda’s Get Into Rugby is a blend of Tag and Uganda Rugby Union programs. We are locating rugby centres, going to schools that we have had contact with before.

“But schools now write to us saying they want rugby there, which shows the change in mindset. Before, there was a bit of stigma about rugby in schools and we needed a lot of education, starting with the teachers. The key is also getting parents fully on board and then you get two or three brothers all playing at different high-level clubs.”

Bhubesi Pride is the initiative Richard Bennett started in 2010 to bring together rural communities, NGOs and government departments in Africa with lovers of rugby union. It selects volunteers from all over the world to help develop rugby and harness its benefits for society in general.

According to Bennett, Bhubesi Pride has three main objectives: “To unite communities through rugby, promoting the sport’s values and life skills; empower and up-skill local staff, nurturing community leaders, male and female, in a way that maximises sustainability; and to inspire long-term developmental outcomes via tangible legacy projects, alongside in-country partners.”

Their 2015 expedition began at the end of January in Uganda with a 25-strong team of volunteers drawn from 11 different countries.

“Bhubesi Pride have raised huge awareness, especially in Jinja, which is an hour from Kampala. It was good that they went to where the boy died on the pitch, they faced that and educated the people about what happened. They go to a number of schools, holding clinics for coaches in the area and it has been a huge success. They do a lot,” Owor said.

It’s an important year for Uganda Rugby because, at the top level, their senior team will be bidding for promotion back into Africa Group 1A and their men’s and women’s sevens teams are both strong contenders to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Uganda rugby has always been renowned for a running, expansive game and the sheer pace of their players – sometimes their props could seemingly double as wings! – makes up for them being smaller than those from most other African countries. Sevens rugby would seem to be an obvious area for investment.

“We’re in the final eight of Olympic qualifying to be held in South Africa in November. Kenya and Zimbabwe are our main rivals, with one other team from Africa joining South Africa at the Olympics. We don’t have funding to travel much which is why we dropped out of the second level of the World Series.

“We’re now looking for a sponsor and we don’t have nearly as much financial backing as Kenya and not much government support, so we’re at a disadvantage. But there is enormous talent, we saw that in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games last year. They only had four months to train, but they performed so well, beating Sri Lanka and not being disgraced by Australia nor England, you could see the raw talent,” Owor said.

Get Into Rugby has also proved to be a great avenue for women’s players to excel in Uganda.

“It channels girls into sevens and has produced a multitude of players. The Uganda U19 girls won the Safaricom Sevens in Nairobi, it was the first time they had ever been outside Uganda and that shows how much talent there is, but it’s unharnessed.

“Women’s rugby is the success story in Uganda, only South Africa beat our team and the women’s sevens is the first team, across all sporting codes, to represent Uganda at a senior World Cup,” Owor said.

Apart from the usual problem of limited finance, Uganda Rugby is also longing for their own national rugby stadium. Owor is hopeful that a new agreement with the Kingdom of Buganda will see their dream come true.

“It’s a landmark partnership, going to the local kingdom, which is independent of government. They are in the process of giving us land on which we can put up a stadium, which will also be a facility for their subjects. It’s a huge collaboration with the kingdom, which is in the central third of Uganda, and now we will work together to get partners from the rest of the world and hopefully have a new centre for rugby in East Africa,” Owor said.

At grassroots level, the move to bring families and communities on board has been a key factor in the growth of Ugandan rugby, while instituting a three-tiered competition structure has seen the number of senior clubs grow to 26. The changing model has also seen a decentralisation of rugby with the four regions now empowered to run their own affairs on a semi-autonomous basis.

Franchise rugby, with two or three clubs joining together, has also been introduced and although Owor knows it will take time for all the talent in Uganda to bloom, he is confident there is enormous potential.

 

 

Welcome to the big city, but please be more responsible with the pipeline 0

Posted on April 11, 2016 by Ken

 

Many of the country’s top rugby-playing schools came to the big city last weekend as Easter rugby festivals were held at St Stithians, St John’s and King Edward VII.

I always find it interesting to look at the composition of these teams because, if we accept that transformation has to occur in order for the Springboks to pick from all the talent in the country and if we also accept that developmental change has to happen at grassroots level and not at the top, then it follows that the responsibility for ensuring there are more black players in the pipeline must sit with the schools.

While there were some very exciting black players who lit up the festivals – I was hugely impressed by the Grey High backline at St Stithians and Jeppe eighthman Hacjivah Dayimane apparently stole the show at the KES festival – it seems choosing players of colour remains uncomfortable, at best, for certain schools.

It certainly did not sit well with me that my alma mater, Michaelhouse, had only one player of colour in their team. But Michaelhouse, although a decent side, are far from being one of the best schoolboy teams in the country.

Transformation only works if black players are developed through the pipeline and if they get the opportunity to play at the best schools, alongside the best players.

Paarl Boys High, Paul Roos Gymnasium and Affies are generally regarded as the top three rugby schools in the country but players of colour are few and far between in those sides. When those two great Boland teams, Paarl BHS and Paul Roos, played each other last, the local Stellenbosch newspaper featured a double-page spread with all the players mugshots on display. So that’s 44 faces and, barring a handful of kids, they were noticeably lily-white.

Perhaps quotas should be in the works at schoolboy level? How else are unions meant to get enough players of colour into their systems?

For the top rugby schools, who have a history of enticing the best talent, to just about ignore black players is unpatriotic to say the least. Just in the Boland example, there is plenty of fantastic talent right there.

This is yet another issue for Saru to wrestle with, but don’t hold your breath because at the moment they can’t even seem to get a coach for the Springboks sorted out.

You can still bank on the new man being Allister Coetzee, but the constant delays in his appointment are not doing him or the Springboks’ chances of success this year any good at all.

Cricket South Africa also faces interesting times as it ponders whether to keep their faith in their national coach, Russell Domingo.

Chief executive Haroon Lorgat said there will be a thorough review of the team’s performance under Domingo, but speaking to other coaches and players, the Eastern Cape man certainly has backing.

Again, timing is of the essence, though, and four Tests in Australia in November would not be a kind first assignment if they are going to make a change. Far rather use the triangular limited-overs series in the West Indies in June and the home Tests against New Zealand in August to bed someone new in.



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