How Former Team India Coach Gary Kirsten Is Helping One Of World's Biggest Slums

How Former Team India Coach Gary Kirsten Is Helping One Of World's Biggest Slums

Former Team India head coach Gary Kirsten details on how he is helping one of South Africa's poorest slums.

PTIUpdated: Thursday, February 15, 2024, 05:36 PM IST
article-image
PTI Photo

Notorious for drugs and crime and afflicted by large-scale poverty, the Khayelitsha township in Cape Town is better known for being one of the biggest slums on the planet. But World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten is attempting to change the image for good through cricket.

The idea struck him when he returned to his home here after guiding India to a World Cup title in 2011. Khayelitsha was established in 1983 when the Apartheid regime forcefully relocated people from the growing black population around the city. Currently, it has a population of over 2.4 million and most of the inhabitants are Black Africans.

"When I came back from India, I wanted to have a look at cricket in our poorest neighbourhoods in Cape Town," Kirsten recalled in an interview with PTI.

He ended up touring Khayelitsha, situated 30km south-east of Cape Town and considered one of the most unsafe areas where a majority of the inhabitants still live in shacks.

"I took a tour of the area with local school authorities and found that no cricket was happening which disappointed me a lot. I thought of this centre and we started with two concrete nets in two schools and then included three more schools," Kirsten said.

What ultimately shaped up was the Catch Trust Foundation, originally called the Gary Kirsten Foundation, in 2014 and its plan was to ensure that kids don't take the path of drugs and violence.

Much like his cricketing career, which was built on discipline and was defined by a voracious appetite for runs, Kirsten's foundation has also been gradually making a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of kids.

"It is helping me to avoid street things like smoking weed and helping me keep my body and lungs fit. I see myself as a future South African player," said 15-year-old Lukholo Malong, a trainee spinner whose parents work as domestic helps.

'Talent is universal, opportunity is not', reads the guiding principle of the foundation with the stated goal being to create sporting ecosystems in low-income areas.

"I take motivation from Virat Kohli" - Lukholo Malong

The foundation has been operating at five schools in Khayelitsha and claims to have worked with over 1000 kids in 5-19 age bracket. A strong women's team has also emerged and some girls of them have managed to reach the provincial representation level.

"I take motivation from Virat Kohli as he inspires me to work hard and keep going. I want to play for South Africa one day," said Malong, spelling out his dreams for a better life on the back of a sporting career.

"Kohli is my favourite player as he keeps motivating us and we learn not to give up, push hard and keep going, we will be something one day. I have seen him on the field in Cape Town but will meet him one day," he added.

Malong's friend Tylan hopes to emulate Rishabh Pant and Jos Buttler

Malong and his friend Tylan, like hundreds of other kids at the centre run by the Foundation, are trying to find a new life for themselves and their families. Nine-year-old Tylan's parents are local bakers. He is a wicketkeeper-batter, who wants to emulate the likes of Rishabh Pant and Jos Butler.

People here in our locality are very violent so we came here to play cricket. Since 2019, we are here playing cricket. Rishabh Pant and Jos Butler are my favourite because they can hit the ball well. I want to play like them," he added.

RECENT STORIES

Shocking Visuals: 'Unruly' Argentina & Colombia Fans Leave Miami's Hard Rock Stadium In Shambles...

Shocking Visuals: 'Unruly' Argentina & Colombia Fans Leave Miami's Hard Rock Stadium In Shambles...

'Football Won Today': Spain Star Lamine Yamal Reacts After Lionel Messi's Argentina Clinch 16th Copa...

'Football Won Today': Spain Star Lamine Yamal Reacts After Lionel Messi's Argentina Clinch 16th Copa...

Video: Chaotic Scenes As Ticketless Colombian Fans Breach Security To Enter Stadium For Copa America...

Video: Chaotic Scenes As Ticketless Colombian Fans Breach Security To Enter Stadium For Copa America...

Health Ministry To Ask BCCI To Ban Tobacco Ads During Cricket Matches, Remove Pan Masala Hoardings...

Health Ministry To Ask BCCI To Ban Tobacco Ads During Cricket Matches, Remove Pan Masala Hoardings...

ARG vs COL, Copa America 2024 Final: Lionel Messi's Swollen Ankle Leaves Fans In Shock, Say 'It...

ARG vs COL, Copa America 2024 Final: Lionel Messi's Swollen Ankle Leaves Fans In Shock, Say 'It...