By Al Qalam Correspondent
When Awqaf SA and Primroses Cricket Club hosted their annual T20 Youth Cricket Tournament in Cape Town recently, they understood that the event was more than just playing sport – it was geared towards building confidence, social cohesion, and helping young people develop with a purpose in life.
The event – during the holiday season – was held under the auspices of the Western Province Cricket Association and saw more than 30 community teams compete for top honours.
The cricket tournament is an extension of Awqaf SA’s national social cohesion programmes which includes education, poverty alleviation, youth leadership training, geriatric care, water wells and creating green spaces.
The tournament was expanded to include boys’ teams in the under-11, under-12, under-13 and under-15 age groups. The introduction of girls’ teams to the competition – in the under-13 and under-15 age groups – also highlighted the growing emphasis on the need for equal opportunity in sport, and they will compete in the u-13 and u-15 age groups.
Awqaf SA Deputy CEO, Mickaeel Collier said that as a community-owned Endowment Fund, the organisation wanted to provide an equal opportunity to all youth cricketers participating in the tournament.
“We believe that sport is a natural vehicle that acts as a sustainable tool in developing individuals and communities. The tournament allowed children from varying walks of life to play the game of cricket at no charge thus promoting social cohesion.”
“We thought of using cricket as a medium to get youth active again. By having them on the cricket field for a few hours, parents knew that their children were safe and enjoying themselves as opposed to walking the streets,” he added.
According to tournament secretary, Zaynoel Bawa, this year was a “positive learning curve” for the organising committee as they had to coordinate more teams than ever before. One team that travelled for no less than two days – approximately 1 500 kilometres – was the under-12 boys’ team from Namibia.
Team coach, Lauritz Haccou, said it was a privilege for his team to compete in this “well-organised”, international event. “Our team was excited to play in South Africa. They were able to interact with other players while also gaining experience and insight into how the game is played in South Africa.”
Under-13 coach for Stellenbosch, Ashley Dlamini said that Awqaf SA and Primroses CC T20 Youth Cricket tournament was one that many clubs were looking forward to.
“As some teams have players who have been exposed to provincial cricket, our players got to compete against other players who were playing on a level above them. There were able to test own skills to see how good they really are.”
Dlamini noted that the tournament has excelled in its mandate of bringing youth together from different backgrounds, under the umbrella of social cohesion.
“We have a vast number of players coming from different areas, ethnicities and financial backgrounds. Some of our players come from affluent areas while others come from struggling households. This tournament has allowed these boys and girls to interact with each other, to get a better understanding of the world around them. This is the spirit of the game.”
As patrons for the tournament Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) President Beresford Williams and CEO Nabiel Dien expressed their gratitude to Awqaf SA for taking the lead in making this event possible.
“This tournament is something we critically need as it positively contributes to cricket development. I am elated at how the tournament has progressed thus far. I must salute Awqaf SA and Primroses for taking the lead in hosting this event,” Williams said.
“I have seen how communities and cricket clubs have worked together to encourage our youth to believe in themselves. It is our role as the cricketing stalwarts and leadership to guide and advise and to build up their confidence so that they can attain their dreams.”