Cape Town - Former Proteas fast bowler Monde Zondeki has encouraged the youngsters who are about to take part in South Africa's premier youth national week to seize the opportunity to perform on a national platform during this year's Khaya Majola Cricket Week taking place in Pietermaritzburg between December 16-21.
The Khaya Majola Cricket Week is steeped in the country's cricketing history, in the first place through the constant conveyor belt of players that have taken part in the national week and have gone onto represent South Africa on the international stage. The players who have come through the competition include the likes of former Proteas captain, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Kagiso Rabada.
Secondly, it honours Khaya Majola, one of the nation's leading cricketers in the 1970s and 1980s before becoming a top administrator in the game he loved, playing a pivotal role in the setting up of a new development programme in the post-Apartheid era at Cricket South Africa (CSA) (then known as the United Cricket Board).
Born in the New Brighton township in Port Elizabeth, Majola went on to have a notable provincial career, being one of only three players to score over 2000 runs and take over 200 wickets in the 216 non-racial three-day matches organised by the South Africa Cricket Board between 1971 and 1991.
Despite never reaching his dream of representing South Africa due to the political climate at the time, the former all-rounder laid an invaluable foundation for future generations through his work in development cricket after hanging up his boots. One of the many youngsters who benefitted during his tenure as Director of Amateur Cricket was Zondeki.
The former Dale College and Border cricketer, who represented his province on two occasions in 1997 as a 15-year-old and again in 2000, and is now a national selector at U19 level, reflected on his days of playing at the Week and the importance this holds for the players who wish to make a career in the game.
"From a personal point of view, I always wanted to play for SA U19s, as a feather in my cap. It was a big thing for me at school, I wanted to get my name on the honours boards, and experience all the things that came with it and playing in the Khaya Majola Week was an honour and allowed me to be able to do that.
"Playing in a national tournament like this, at any level, is a huge deal for the players. If you want to make cricket your career and to stamp your authority in front of guys like me, the selectors and other provincial teams who'd want to give you a professional contract afterwards, it's a great platform to showcase your talent.
"The most important thing is that they must just go out there and express their talent, showcase whatever skill you have, be yourself and mostly, enjoy it," Zondeki added.
The 16-team interprovincial tournament will include last year's unofficial champions, the Central Gauteng Lions and guest team, Namibia, as they embark on five days of non-stop cricket across all three formats, namely, time cricket and T20 and 50-over cricket.
This year's edition will return to KwaZulu-Natal for the first time since 2013, with Michaelhouse hosting the tournament, while matches will also be played at the Pietermaritzburg Oval, Hilton College, St Charles College and the Weston Patterson Oval.
The 50-over matches over the final two days will be arranged on a strength versus strength basis before the youth national selectors pick this year's SA Schools and SA Colts teams to take part in a T20 finale on Day 6.
Niels Momberg, CSA Youth and Tertiary Manager, said ahead of the 2019 Khaya Majola Cricket Week: "It has been a long and dare I say, difficult road to get to this point. There are thousands of kids who strive to reach this level and in the end only 13 boys from each province made it. KZN Inland will be hosting this CSA tournament and a special thanks has to go to Kwazi Mduli and his LOC, who pulled out all the stops to make the players' experience an unforgettable one.
"Having Morgan Pillay as the tournament director, who plays a major role in all spheres of youth cricket, helped in ensuring all boxes were ticked. Pillay is a special breed of Schools Cricket administrator and is leaving an indelible mark on the cricket landscape. Long may it continue," he added.
"This tournament is known as the Khaya Majola Cricket Week. Majola was the father of Cricket Development and a champion of non-racial cricket. I urge all the players, coaches and administrators to honour his legacy both on and off the field," Momberg concluded.
Live scores for the Khaya Majola Cricket Week can be located on www.websports.co.za, with match updates and match reports available on Cricket South Africa's official Facebook.