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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 08: a view of kids during the KFC Mini-Cricket Festival at PPC Newlands on March 08, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – MARCH 08: a view of kids during the KFC Mini-Cricket Festival at PPC Newlands on March 08, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

South Africa is a nation that celebrates and is passionate about sport, yet thousands of children have limited access to playing sport they are passionate about. Sport is more than just a game, it allows young boys and girls to engage in teamwork, discipline, tolerance and the value of fair play.

Claire Terblanche, Head Coach: Western Province Women and Girls Pipeline, sat to discuss the beauty of grassroot development and what it potentially means for a budding cricketer in an age of pursuing a healthy mind, body and psyche.

Before Terblanche became a respected cricket coach, she watched from the side-lines as a little girl until she took it upon herself to go for that she wanted, bowling and batting in the streets of her neighbourhood. She says, “I was drawn to cricket because of the contention between opponents, the possibility to establish friendships, travelling to places I have never been to and meeting new people. I hold the game of cricket in high regard as it taught me lessons about life that helped me navigate through the good and the misfortunes that life had handed me.”

When asked about her love for coaching Terblanche said, “Everything I did revolved around cricket and the progression into this role was a natural one for me. My passion for helping people grow helps me maintain my desire to be in an environment I really enjoy.”

Terblanche reiterates that effective coaching cannot be achieved without functional development at a grassroot level. “It allows for the holistic growth of kids. It allows for them to enjoy the game, develop faster and retain what the kid has learnt through the beautiful game. Subsequently, as they mature as players who are open to learning and the fun related to learning, even at pro-level.”

KFC Mini-Cricket provides several inclinations for development including:

Physical development

The reality is that the current breed of players are well built and tall, even at a mini-cricket level it seems the kids have a sturdy physique in early development. Coaches need to monitor the kids closely as childhood growth spurts can cause varying difficulties when players are still so young. Another element to consider for grassroot development physique is the approach of their coaching drills at practice and on match day as all the kids want to do, is play. In principle, the more the kids get outside to run around and play in a safe environment, the healthier their bodies will be for the next stage of the cricket pipeline.

Intellectual development

In the early stages of development, coaches need to use the cricket language more often when on the field. The language needs to be instilled at the grassroot development level as there’s opportunity to make this engaging and helps retain the kid’s attention while learning about the beautiful game. The more coaches speak the cricket language the easier it becomes for players to develop their own frame of reference; this will ensure that they take their ownership within their own space and establish their own approach in their pursuit of playing cricket either professionally or socially.

Emotional development

The reality is that kids at any level of the pipeline need to be nurtured alongside being coached about the skills involved in cricket. Additionally, trust between player and coach goes a long way to connecting emotionally as there are more factors that could affect the development of a player which are not related to their physical or mental wellbeing. Coaches need to create a space that can allow for players to express themselves in all human facets. Sensitivity to their non-verbal cues such as their body language should be taken seriously to mitigate the emotional expression and development at an early age.

Terblanche was asked why she supports KFC Mini-Cricket Provincial Festivals, she said “ Besides giving back to the community of cricket, taking the WP Senior Women to spend time with budding cricketers is a brilliant way to help kids understand the game of cricket and a lovely opportunity to encourage kids to immerse themselves in making friends, even with their provincial heroes. It is a good initiative to socialise kids and allow for the programme to impact them in one way or another.”

The KFC Mini-Cricket programme remains one of the largest national grassroots development programme in South Africa and offers kids with the critical building blocks for learning cricketing basics and entrenching a love for the game. The programme allows volunteer coaches at schools to offer a cricket sporting programme, even with basic fields and facilities.

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