Johannesburg: Plans by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to include more Black players, who were denied places in the national side in the apartheid era, received a huge boost today when it signed an agreement with the country's Education and Sport Ministries.
The agreement will give practical impetus to CSA's development and transformation programmes by linking schools cricket with CSA's regional performance centres and hubs.
"Schools sport is the bedrock for elite sports, not only in South Africa, but around the world," said CSA President Chris Nenzani.
"We warmly welcome the support of these two government departments. Overcoming more than a century of neglect of the majority of our school children is something that is beyond the resources of any individual sporting code," Nenzani added.
"I want to commend CSA for committing to work closely with government to ensure that we provide opportunities to play the game to those most disadvantaged by apartheid sports policies," said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
"We are particularly pleased that the initiative will target those in rural areas and townships, as well as provide opportunities to young girls to benefit from specialised coaching at the CSA Cricket Hubs, Regional Performance Centres and Provincial Academies.
"Cricket, like other sporting codes, has the potential to build trust, tolerance and respect amongst communities kept apart in the past.
"Sport as a nation-building exercise, however, requires us to actively work towards levelling the playing fields. This initiative is a crucial step in that process," concluded the minister.
"Schools sport remains the bedrock to the entire sport development continuum in our country and creates a sustainable and vibrant platform on which all future champions will emerge," said Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The issue of too few Black players in the Proteas team has been a bugbear for the past two decades since South Africa was readmitted to the international arena following decades? of isolation.