East London - Former Protea cricket legend Makhaya Ntini has officially opened the Makhaya Ntini Academy in Mdantsane, outside East London, on Tuesday.
The Mdingi Express, as he is known, said the opening of the Academy is a dream come true. "I’ve long dreamt of having a School of Excellence," Ntini said.
Every second Friday Ntini will run cricket clinics in an attempt to unearth the talent he is aware is available within the Eastern Cape, ready to be tapped and nurtured.
"We call these Fun Fridays," he said.
"Someone has to go out there, visit the schools and find the talent which I know is out there.
"And that someone is me. I will go out there and look for that talent.
The main sponsors of the initiative are Algoa FM radio station and Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and Bellingham Smith.
His Academy will be more than just playing cricket. The focus will also be on tertiary education , fitness training, diet planning and nurturing life skills while those cricketers who show the right passion and have the talent will be guided to higher levels in the game.
Psychological assessments and counselling will also feature and Ntini will arrange bursaries and scholarships for deserving youngsters.
Ntini set the standard for black cricketers.
He was the first black South African to play international cricket, and since his debut back in 1997, only four other black cricketers have made it to Test level.
Ntini played in 101 Tests and is the bowler with the second-most Test wickets for South Africa, having captured 390, with Shaun Pollock with 421, just ahead of him.
His 13-132 against the West Indies in 2005 is the best return in a match for any South African bowler, while he is the only South African to take 10 wickets (5-75 and 5-145) at the headquarters of cricket, Lord’s in London which he accomplished against England in 2003.
The first Fun Friday will take place on 1 August 1.