MORE than 600 children and 150 teachers, coaches and players yesterday took to the Winter Rose Cricket Field for the Border Provincial KFC Mini Cricket Festival.
The event saw children from 10 regions travel from as far as Peddie and Queenstown with their best U10 boy and girl cricketers.
Not even light rain showers, which halted proceedings for a few minutes, could stop the enthusiasts from enjoying the beautiful game.
Festival coordinator Mnonopheli Mfenqe called the annual event a “great success”.
“I’m really happy with the way things have gone today, we’ve had a very successful festival despite the rain earlier.
“At the end of the day I’m happy with the way things went more especially for the kids … This was all done for them, it’s good to see them enjoying themselves and learning the game of cricket.
“Cricket was the winner here today and these kids will go back to their respective regions having got a lot of exposure,” added Mfenqe.
The festival, a countrywide initiative from Cricket South Africa (CSA) in conjunction with KFC, is currently at the halfway stage of its nationwide tour.
For 10-year-old Lindokuhle Mlenze from Mxhelo village in Xesi the festival was a real eye-opener.
“I have learnt a lot today … One day I would like to play for South Africa like Jacque Kallis because he is a very good bowler and I like bowling.
“He also takes good catches and I want to learn how to catch and play like him,” said Mlenze.
After enjoying the game earlier in the day, the kids got a chance to mingle with the Proteas mascot Zack who was on hand to entertain the youngsters.
With the kids enjoying themselves, Cranberry Primary School mini cricket coach Sherilise Fortuin felt festivals like this should be organised frequently.
“Its so nice to see the kids enjoying themselves like this. Most of them see and hear about cricket but have never been exposed to it in such a manner,” said Fortuin.
After having had to cancel their first festival in 20 years in Mthatha on Wednesday, due to a waterlogged outfield, CSA Youth Cricket Officer David Makopanele thought it was great to eventually see the kids in action.
Makopanele said: “Yesterday we were unfortunate not to get some play as it was rained out in Mthatha, but today has been an awesome day and tomorrow it’s Port Elizabeth.
“Remember 80% of the current Proteas’ team have come through this programme so we could be seeing the next Makhaya Ntini or Mfuneko Ngam come from these youngsters.”