GK Foundation launches artificial cricket oval in Khayelitsha

The Gary Kirsten Foundation (GKF) opened a R4,5 million artificial turf in Khayelitsha on Friday 28 February 2020, which will be part of a Centre of Cricket Excellence at Chris Hani Secondary School.

“Five years ago I visited Khayelitsha on a fact-finding mission and I was shocked not to find one sports field in the township. It became my mission to establish first class facilities that would give kids an equal chance at the game of cricket,” said Kirsten.

“In two years, I look forward to Chris Hani’s U19 team playing against a privileged school on this world-class field, then we have created equal opportunities,” said Kirsten.

In partnership with the then-headmaster of Chris Hani Secondary School, Madoda Mahlutshana, the first nets were built in Khayelitsha.  Five years on, under the auspices of the Gary Kirsten Foundation, 400 children play cricket regularly at five school locations under the guidance of eight employed GKF coaches, where outdoor nets have been installed.  A strong women’s team is also emerging and some girls have reached provincial representation.

Kirsten said the funds have been raised for the complete Centre of Cricket Excellence, and construction will be completed on the Indoor Centre in May this year.

“This will allow the Gary Kirsten Foundation to create a world-class hub for township cricket in the region and serve the surrounding community, there will be three indoor lanes, an office and communal spaces,” he added.

The Artificial cricket oval, which has been made possible by the incredible generosity of sponsors HomeChoice, it is the first of its kind in the country and is ready to host local matches, events and tournaments.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with the Gary Kirsten Foundation and it’s such facilities that create a safe space for children,” said Rick Garratt, founder of HomeChoice.

Many cricketers from Khayelitsha and other townships have been identified and given scholarships and bursaries to attend privileged schools, but they are displaced from their communities.  I have a vision for local cricketers to remain in their communities, and excel at the game with support and expertise.” said Kirsten.

“Communities take care of their school, and I’m so encouraged to see the community partner with us on this venture, under the guidance of headmistress, Mrs Mnisi.” Added Kirsten.

“This is an emotional day for me and I’m committed to building a cricket programme that provides the same opportunities for all our children, as those at Cape Town schools,” said Mrs Mnisi.