Sport is a language everyone can understand
Written by: Vince Van De Bijl
The under 13 cricket team of the Dragon School , Oxford, UK, visited us for the day.
We combined two 6-a-side cricket matches at Ukhanyo with a visit to The Hit Poverty for Six, Sixes weekend at WPCC. It was a special day ending with both the Ukhanyo and the Dragon teams being coached by ex-Protea players, Jonty Rhodes, Merryck Pringle, Brett Schultz , Nantie Hayward and others.
These visits open the eyes of both the Ukhanyo and the visiting teams. This is Key to the natural transformation process. What a day best expressed by Gus de Bono, in the note below:
I had no idea what to expect as we sat on the our tour bus, driving down the road from Cape Town. The Dragon School 1st XI cricket tour had already taken us to Bishop’s where we played with Table Mountain in the background. This was a bit different as we were heading to the township of Masiphumelele to play at Ukhanyo Primary School.
As we turned off the main road , Into Masiphumelele, I could see immediately that there were lots of very small houses made of sheet metal. There were no trees or greenery just crowded, dirty streets. Tiny, narrow alleyways led off the main road. Thousands of people live here crammed into a very small area. Ramshackle shops were dotted around with roughly painted signs. The atmosphere was very different from around Newlands!
The primary school itself was properly built with some large single storey buildings. It was quite peaceful compared to the chaos on the streets outside. The school is used by community groups and from different rooms we could hear singing from Sunday morning church services.
We were just getting off the bus when an enormous man, nearly seven feet tall, bellowed to get back on so he could talk to us. This was Vince van der Bijl. He told us that the kids we were going to meet went to a very different school from ours in the UK and had very different lives. He was running a project to develop a sports programme at Ukhanyo. Cricket was a focus amongst the other sports, and they were doing very well even though most of them had not been playing long. Mr van der Bijl told us a little about his cricket career and the MCC Masi sports project.
He could not play Test cricket for South Africa because of apartheid but I think what he is doing now is more important and very impressive.
Then we met the local kids. We divided into two groups and played a couple of matches on their two 40 x 20 astro courts. There was not much space so we played six a side. The Dragons were a bit nervous at first; I think the Ukhanyo children were too but after only a few minutes we were all having a great laugh.
They say that sport is a language everyone can understand but here we were, actually speaking it.
We spent a couple of hours at Ukhanyo and it was definitely, one of the highlights of our tour. We had brought some cricket kit and school shoes for our hosts and were happy to be able to give something to remember us by.
I hope that other schools will visit Ukhanyo and help them develop their cricket. They have some great batsmen and some good fast bowlers. I know that they would really like to have a proper wicket and ground to play on where they could hit boundaries and I hope that people might be able to support Mr van der Bijl’s project to make this possible.
Thank you for giving me and my teammates a great day and memories that we will always treasure.
(By Gus de Bono, captain of the under 13 cricket team)