St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Personalities St George's Park - Nagin Umley
Nagin Umley
Heidi Bantam

Port Elizabeth sports administrators have suggested that the St George’s Park media centre be named after non-racial sport campaigner Nagin Umley.

A call has been made to honour prominent non-racial sport campaigner Nagin Umley, by naming the St George’s Park media centre after him.

Mr Umley, 83, died earlier this month.

His efforts to unify sport in South Africa date back to 1936 with the formation of the then Eastern Province Indian Cricket Union – with three clubs, Aryans, Orients and Swaraj, as affiliates. This led to the formation of the South African Indian Cricket Union in 1940. He captained EP at many of the subsequent tournaments until 1953.

As the headquarters and tournaments rotated every two years, Mr Umley served as President of the South African Indian Cricket Union in 1949.

He also served as president of the EP Cricket Union from 1943 until 1959.

A red-letter period in his career was the arrival of the Kenya Asian cricket team in 1956. EP played against the visitors on the Union Ground in St George’s Park.

He was instrumental in forming the EP Inter-Race Board. As its first chairman and re-elected until 1960, he was able to convince the various unions to relinquish their affiliation to their respective national bodies and allow their teams to form one union.

As a result, a meeting was convened in 1961 and the EP Cricket Union was formed – a first for the country. Mr Umley was the first president.

He was also a life president of the EP Cricket Board.

It was suggested that the media centre at St George’s Park be named in his honour as it would be a pity if the city fathers were to forget persons of his calibre and allow their names to fade into oblivion.

The efforts and sacrifices made by him during extremely difficult times must serve as a beacon for those still grappling with issues of transformation.

Mr Umley’s peers, including former Cricket Union secretary Rami Doriswami, Aryan member Shanti Raga, Aryan Sports Club president Mike Vaghmaria, EP Cricket board advisory panelist and EP Sports Council vice president Raymond Uren, said they supported the call.

A tribute to the late administrator is also made in a book penned by former Robben Island Museum director Professor Andre Ondendaal, which is due for publication soon.

In a chapter of The Story of an African Game entitled “Black Springboks in the 1950s”, Prof Odendaal writes: “Nagin Umley deserves a place in any hall of fame of Eastern Province and South African Cricket”.

Mr Umley’s wife, Thelma, said the tribute idea was “quite nice” and would allow his “legacy to live on”.

EP Cricket Board CEO Dave Emslie said he agreed there was “a need to respect our previous players and administrators”, but could not give comment on the suggestion “off the bat”.

Mr Umley, who came from a prominent South End business family, is survived by his wife and his son, Roschan.

The Herald.
July 22, 2003.

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