Gary Kirsten Foundation uses Cricket as beacon of change in poor South African townships

After doing it all as a coach and a player, Gary Kirsten through his foundation called Gary Kirsten Foundation is building a cricket ecosystem in poor townships of Cape Town such as Khayalitsha which is poverty and crime striken.

Sarah Andrew
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Gary Kirsten Foundation Source: X

Sports is not just a source of entertainment but also can be used as a beacon of change and South Africa’s former player Gary Kirsten is doing the same. Kirsten was a prominent South African player in his time but he gained worldwide prominence after he won the 2011 ODI World Cup as a coach of team India.

He further used his coaching prowess and his fame to help the poverty-stricken and crime inflected township of Khayelitsha (situated 30km south-east of Cape Town) by inculcating the discipline and ethics of cricket and guiding the lives of young and poor children towards a better life.

Gary Kirsten opens up on his philosophy behind the foundation

Kirsten reminisced about the time after the 2011 World Cup when he came back to Cape Town and decided to work for change in the poorest neighbourhoods and use cricket to change the image of these localities.

While talking to PTI, Kirsten said, “When I came back from India, I wanted to have a look at cricket in our poorest neighbourhoods in Cape Town." I took a tour of the area with local school authorities and found that no cricket was happening which disappointed me a lot. I thought of this center and we started with two concrete nets in two schools and then included three more schools."

Gary Kirsten opened many such small cricket clubs in the township under the Gary Kirsten Foundation in 2014 which was renamed as Catch Trust Foundation. Kirsten started this foundation with a belief and gradually it transformed the lives of many young children and brought a positive change in the locality by keeping them away from weed and other crimes which are quite prevalent in the poor localities of Cape Town.

Lukolo Malong who is a trainee spinner in one of the clubs of the foundation said, “is helping me to avoid street things like smoking weed and helping me keep my body and lungs fit. I see myself as a future South African player."

He further added, “I take motivation from Virat Kohli as he inspires me to work hard and keep going. I want to play for South Africa one day," "Kohli is my favourite player as he keeps motivating us and we learn not to give up, push hard, and keep going, we will be something one day. I have seen him on the field in Cape Town but will meet him one day."

The foundation believes that talent is universal but opportunities are not and with the help of their foundation they want to give that opportunity to these youngsters who don’t get them and thus get diverted in the path of crimes. The foundation even took 13 players and two coaches to England for the 2019 Cricket World Cup which was a life-changing tour for them.

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