Johannesburg - Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith believes youngsters who are participating in the KFC Mini-Cricket programme could follow in the footsteps of Protea stars like Temba Bavuma, Kagiso Rabada and Rilee Rossouw.
The three players are the products of the same programme.
The current crop of young participants tick the right boxes to go forth and make it big in future, he reckons.
“There is enough talent around,” he pointed out. “This year, we saw some great talent. If they carry on playing cricket, I will not be surprised if they eventually make it to the Proteas. For me, that will be awesome. That will be an amazing story.”
Smith was speaking in Hluhluwe in northern KwaZulu-Natal this week at a mini-cricket seminar that was held from Tuesday to Friday.
He also spoke about the importance of coaching in South Africa, saying it was a key area that needed improvement.
“I think coaching is such a key [component of] our game staying strong. Developing players to have a strong Proteas team and future domestic teams is important. Maybe this is an area of South African cricket in which we are not as strong as we could be.”
He said investment such as KFC’s was key in helping the nation remain strong in coaching.
The annual seminar aims to not only empower and educate coaches, but also to honour their contributions in their respective communities.
Since its inception, the programme has had more than 2.5 million kids participating and continues to be a driving force for strong national teams. It has produced more than 120 000 boys and girls who have played KFC Mini-Cricket throughout the year in more than 6 400 schools, and they have been coached by almost 12 000 volunteer coaches.
Cricket SA mass participation manager David Mokopanele praised the coaches who took it upon themselves to develop communities through sport by volunteering to coach the kids.
“We would reach our target if we could just get two players out of the 120 000 players playing this year to make it to the national Under-19 or the Proteas,” he said.
He also stressed that the target was to raise interest in different communities to attend cricket games all over the country.