The game of cricket first played in England in the 16th century, has recently gained popularity in Botswana at grassroots level.
Since its introduction to primary schools in 2007, cricket has gradually made its way into the sporting consciousness of local youngsters. Now with the recent launch of the Debswana sponsored Re Ba Bona Ha skills development programme for cricket, the search is on for local cricketing talent.
To find out what youngsters think about the ‘gentleman’s game,’ The Voice went to Phatsimo Primary school grounds to ask young cricket players about the new sport’s code in their school.
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International player Jacques Kallis, South Africa’s record-breaking cricket all-rounder, has been the inspiration for the standard six captain of the team. The top order batsman said he loves to watch cricket on SABC 3 and study the skills he sees there to improve his performance on the field. Also a keen footballer he has taken up cricket because it is a non-contact sport and there is less chance of injury.
He feels he has a talent for the game and dreams of playing for the national team with the hope of one day competing internationally. He was first introduced to the sport when he started playing it at John Mackenzie School where it has been established for many years.
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The standard four batsman from Nshakashokwe said his main sport was football but he decided to join the new sports code in their school to learn different skills His ambition is to go to India, where cricket is the national sport, and get a scholarship to train in their high performance centres with the hope of becoming a professional cricketer. The young lad watches cricket on Supersport and his mother gives him her support so that when there is a game on television they do not fight for the remote control. His favourite cricketer is the world’s leading batsman Sachin Tendulkar who is a living legend of the game.
The ten-year-old bowler from Masukwane in the North East joined the cricket team because her best friend asked her to come along. Then to her surprise she found out that not only did she enjoy playing, but was good at it as well. South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell, an international cricketer who has played for teams around the world, is her inspiration.
Although girl cricketers are few in the team that does not demoralize her as she believes she has the potential to be selected for the Under 15 national team. Her ambition is to go on to become a founding member of a Botswana woman’s national cricket team.
Cricket development coach Clement Chipanga told Voice Sport that if things go according to plan the Francistown region will establish a cricket league next year. He said the league will promote the sport and also be used to identify skilful players who can make the national team.
“Botswana has the chance to develop a national team that can compete internationally because under 15 and 17 teams are doing well. We identify talent by teaching the kids the basics of cricket and we train good bowlers and batsman. This sport is new in primary schools but kids like playing the game, and by training coaches we will have the manpower to develop,” he said.