Calypso Cricket hits the beach

2011-12-14 12:16

Cape Town - With schools out and summer here, cricket is topping the recreational agenda for over 3 000 children from different communities, who will take part in the 21st annual Sporting Chance Calypso Cricket Festival, to be held at local Cape Town beaches. This year, there’s even more cause for celebration, as the festival that gives a summer splash to cricket, comes of age,

Now in its 21st year, the festival runs every day from December 12-16 on Sunrise beach near Muizenberg (home of Calypso), Main beach - The Strand and on Long beach in Kommetjie.

Borne from a desire to introduce large numbers of kids to cricket and bring together the various communities and cultures of South Africa, The Sporting Chance Calypso Cricket Festival was started by Brad Bing of youth sports development agency Sporting Chance in 1990. The festival, in association with Virgin Active, I&J and SuperSport Let’s Play, is an annual highlight for thousands of children who are bussed in to the beach, from various communities in the Western Cape including amongst others Langa, Manenberg and Ocean View, to pit their cricketing skills against one another. 

Aside from a trip to the beach for many children who would otherwise not have this kind of opportunity, the festival highlights Sporting Chance's determination to encourage sport as a fixture in all children's lives, irrespective of race, gender or social class and to create an uplifting environment to bring together various communities.

“It is a fantastic achievement that Calypso Cricket is turning 21,” says Bing. “It means that we have exposed an entire generation of youngsters to the sport of cricket and the benefits of teamwork, as well as giving them a reward at the end of the academic year.  Every year we introduce new groups of children to the programme and their participation and excitement is gratifying as Calypso Cricket continues to be a highlight in their lives.” 

Dr Ivan Meyer, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape said, “Organisations like Sporting Chance are vital for the success of youth sport development. A government has limited funding and stretches this as far as possible, but together with private enterprise and NGOs we can do so much more. Calypso Cricket has surely become an annual highlight for so many of the Western Cape’s sporting youth, and I look forward to seeing them in action! ”

Over the past 21 years the festival has also been recognised as a vehicle for identifying young sporting talent, for fostering a love of cricket and sport in general and as an opportunity to provide a large number of children with a fun filled holiday activity.

Thami Tsolekile, former Proteas wicketkeeper and current Lions’ player was one of the first participants of the Calypso Cricket festival as well as Eagle’s player Malusi ‘Lolly’ Siboto.  Since then, the Calypso Cricket Festival has continued to identify natural talent and has facilitated the opportunity for 43 learners to go onto play provincial cricket at school level.

The Festival is a unique and fun adaptation of the conventional game. Employing most of the rules of cricket, Calypso Cricket is played on the beach with two teams of ten players each. This spirited game originated in the West Indies and is played between different villages where people gather in their hundreds for the event.

“Calypso Cricket is a unique approach to cricket coaching and one that has proven to be an exciting way of introducing young children, particularly from our emerging communities, to the game, whilst providing them with a platform to excel,” adds Bing.

“It’s about hitting the ball hard - fielding in ankle deep water and bowling with vigour - while dodging waves and making new friends in the process.”

Participation in the programme is from the age of eight to 15, offering learners the opportunity to engage in a healthy and fun-filled lifestyle throughout those critical, formative years. The communities and clubs are therefore an integral part of the programme.

Robyn Moore, Club V manager of Virgin Active, adds: “Calypso Cricket provides children with a healthy and positive alternative to a sedentary and disruptive lifestyle. Virgin Active is proud to be associated with the Calypso Cricket project that has a tremendous track record in assisting in improving the lives of thousands of South Africa’s children.

The 21st annual Calypso Cricket Festival takes place on the following dates:

Monday, December 12:
Venue: Main Beach, Strand
Regions participating: Khayelitsha, Lwandle & Nomzano

Tuesday, December 13:
Venue: Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg
Regions participating: Langa, Elsies River

Wednesday, December 14:
Venue: Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg
Regions participating: Gugulethu, Mitchells Plain, Macassar         

Thursday, December 15:
Venue: Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg
Regions participating: Nyanga, Kwezi 
Friday, December 16:
Venue: Long Beach, Kommetjie
Regions participating: Manenberg, Masiphumele, Ocean View