The Stellenbosch Hub which is affiliated with Boland Cricket recently beat more than 60 other hubs in the country to be named Cricket South Africa’s Hub of the Year.
Head coach of the Stellenbosch Hub, Ashley Dhelminie, was also named coach of the year at the awards ceremony in Pretoria last month.
“It was an exiting and proud moment for us. The awards ceremony was overwhelming as the Proteas were there. Awards are not really something we strive for but it is nice to be recognised for all the hard work we put in,” says Dhelminie.
The Stellenbosch Hub was established in 2015 and was headed up by Dhelminie and two other assistant coaches. Since then the coaching team has grown to five coaches looking after six different age groups which include four boys teams (u-11, u-13, u-15 and u-18) as well as two girls teams (u-13 and u-19) each with a squad of 18 to 25 players per age group.
The Regional Performance Centre Programme and Hubs Programme is a cricket development initiative of Cricket South Africa. The aim is to identify and develop cricketers in formerly disadvantaged communities and give them the opportunity to play more cricket.
“Cricket in Stellenbosch on junior level went a little dormant for a while in the late 90s. Cricket became an expensive sport to play so not many people could do it and it completely stopped in certain areas. We are trying to pick it up again and with this Hub Programme we are definitely making good progress.”
The Hub works with children in all the schools in Stellenbosch and surrounding towns including Pniël, Kylemore and Kayamandi.
“We liaise with schools where children play cricket and do talent identification or go to schools where cricket is not played and see what talent there is. If we spot youngsters with talent we encourage them to get involved with the programme.”
According to Dhelminie the programme still needs a lot of support. They sometimes struggle with transport because the players come from different areas. “We still haven’t reached every area we would like to reach. Things like transport become a problem especially getting children to the base at Idasvalley Sports Grounds for training and matches. We need more equipment and more coaches in order to sustain the programme and get it to the next level.”
According to Dhelminie the programme is ultimately about talent identification and getting the boys and girls to play more cricket so that they can qualify for Boland Cricket teams.
“It is about changing lives through cricket. Not everyone is going to end up playing cricket when they are older, but these kids get spotted by other schools that want them to attend those schools. This means more exposure and a better education. This makes the pathway from high school to university a bit easier. A programme like this opens doors beyond just the cricket fields.”
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