If South Africa wants to excel and be counted as one of the best sporting countries in the world, it has to start by investing in sporting infrastructure, especially in formerly disadvantaged areas and schools.
These were the thoughts of Highveld Lions batsman Omphile Ramela during the KFC Mini-Cricket Festival at Highlands North Boys’ High School on Spring Day which saw more than 800 children of various Gauteng schools take part.
The Soweto Meadowlands-born Ramela, himself a product of Mini-Cricket, said it was imperative that ‘we should start by investing in infrastructure for all our sporting codes and more so in the previously disadvantaged communities and schools’.
“This thing of exporting talent from the township to private schools in the hope that it will swell the ranks of our outstanding sportsmen and women who can take on the world will never work,” he said.
“How many bursaries can be offered by one school or cricketing body for that matter to nurture talented young cricketers? We need to invest in and develop the sporting infrastructure in those communities and schools rather than exporting talent. It’s not all the talent that will be exported and this means that some of the talents will tend to fall to waste in-between the cracks.”
Ramela pointed out that he was not against the offering of bursaries to talented sportsmen and women but only felt that this tended to run short of the targets needed to swell the country’s sporting ranks.
He was one of those who was scouted for his cricketing skills and ‘exported’ from Soweto’s Tshireletso Primary School (later Tshwelelang Junior Secondary) to St Peter’s Preparatory School in Rivonia and eventually found himself at St John’s College in Houghton, where he matriculated in 2006.
“The problem we have is that most of our schools in townships are dysfunctional sporting-wise and also only manage to scrape through on the academic front. The government needs to come to the party to help our children and communities by building holistic schools where our children can learn and play sport at the same time.”
Asked for his advice for aspiring cricketers, Ramela urged the youngsters to have fun, enjoy what they do but above all, they should work hard, read their school books, develop a love for reading and writing and have incredible listening skills in class.
Ramela is himself a well-read cricketer who holds a BA degree in politics, philosophy and economics, two honours and master’s degrees in economics and philosophy and a master’s degree in economics.