One of Welkom’s up-and-coming cricket stars, Neo Matsoso (19), has overcome all the odds and restrictions which the Covid-19 pandemic placed on young sporting stars across the world. He will soon be leaving South African soil to follow his cricket aspirations in Scotland.
“One of the Arbroath United cricket agencies contacted me through social media,” Neo says.
“They asked for my batting and bowling videos. The agent got back to me and said that both the club president and the club captain were impressed, which left me delighted. Arbroath United is a great team and I am really looking forward to joining them,” he says.
Neo matriculated from Welkom-Gimnasium in 2020.
When Vista interviewed him in October last year about his high hopes for his matric year, he said his goal was to have been selected for the SA Schools cricket squad.
“One thing I learned from my school career is that even if you don’t get chosen, you can still make yourself unmissable. Being at Welkom-Gimnasium was a huge privilege, and if being sent to Welkom-Gimnasium was a special gift from my parents, then I’m glad to say Kevin de Witt, my cricket coach, was the greatest present I have ever received,” says Neo.
“It was a huge honour to play for him and share great moments with him.”
De Witt says Neo is a hardworking and talented young man who never allowed anything to get the better of him.
“The first time I got to work with Neo, he was an u. 14 boy. He played both rugby and cricket for me, and this is how I got to see the kind of person he is. He is always willing to help. He never asked questions, he simply did as he was told,” says De Witt.
He says Neo had to make a tough decision when he came to a crossroads in deciding whether to play rugby or cricket.
“But he always had more love for the game of cricket.”
Neo started excelling in cricket in Gr. 8. He played for the school’s u.15B and second senior team, where he won both leagues. From Gr. 9 Neo was part of the school’s u.15A team, and he also represented the Lejweleputswa District and played on provincial level.
“When Neo started out he was a number 11 batsmen who was more of a bowler than a batsman. I realised how much of a hard worker he was when he started playing for a club in Welkom, The Battle Boys, to better himself – not only as a batsman, but as an all-round cricket player,” says De Witt.
“When he returned to school in Gr. 10, I immediately saw that he had evolved as a player. His batting had improved so much that he opened for the school’s first team. He was quite a force to be reckoned with,” he says.
Neo had three very good mentors at Welkom-Gimna- sium, namely Neil Viljoen, Jan Makkink and De Witt, who helped him not only to excel in cricket, but also in life.
Neo says he still has a lot to achieve.
“I am not on top of the mountain yet. I want to make my parents, my family, and my friends proud, and I want to be an idol for my little brother, Hlompho Matsoso (7).
“To all the youth out there: If you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight back for you. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the best train hard not to be beaten.”
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