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Women's Cricket St George's Park - Women Reap Benefits of Initiative to Improve Prisons Cricket
Women Reap Benefits of Initiative to Improve Prisons Cricket
Neale Emslie

From running the EP Cricket Academy to maintaining facilities, to organising a multitude of coaching programmes, the Eastern Province Cricket Board is the initiator of many varied projects which benefit amateur cricket.

In these days of high-profile professionalism, when most of the focus rightly falls on the top provincial and national competitions, it should not be forgotten that at the bottom of the pyramid there are many people working to ensure that the game remains exposed to a wide spectrum of the community.

They definitely are not the glamour jobs, but it remains an undeniable truth that if those at grassroots level are well catered for, it can only benefit the game all the way to the top.

In the latest initiative adopted by the EP Amateur Cricket Board, leading coach Andre du Plessis has embarked on a coaching programme to uplift Correctional Services cricket, especially their women players.

For the first time this year, an Eastern Cape Correctional Services team will compete in the Correctional Services national week to be held in Cape Town in December and, this week, Du Plessis was hard at work putting the women through their paces.

Correctional Services have been regular competitors in the EP men‘s leagues, but make their debut next season in the women‘s competition. Department of correctional services official Frans Engelbrecht said this week they were thrilled at the interest shown by the women when they put out a notice to see who would be interested in playing cricket.

“There has been a lot of interest from our members and they are enjoying it a lot,” Erasmus said. “We really appreciate the work EP cricket is putting in to assist us.”

Du Plessis, who heads the programme from the EP Amateur side, has been assisting these cricketers from the St Albans Correctional Services facility on a regular basis with quality coaching.

The programme has a dual objective – to teach players the basics of the game and hold courses for coaches, who would then go back to their respective Correctional Services facilities to spread the game there.

This not only entails coaching the women cricketers, but also educating the Correctional Services coaches with invaluable cricketing knowledge.

The squad to participate in the national week in December will be selected from Correctional Services facilities in the entire Eastern Cape.

The programme, which started in April and ends in October, is in operation at the St Albans centre.

However, the major challenge is to ensure that it is carried over to other Correctional Services centres such as Cradock, Grahamstown and Graaff-Reinet.

Du Plessis has already visited the centres in Cradock and Graaff-Reinet to assess the standard of cricket and to assist with the skills development of the cricketers and coaches. A visit to the Grahamstown centre is next on his list.

Reflecting on the initiative, Du Plessis said: “It is a great honour to be coaching such an enthusiastic group of women. This move is in line with the EP Amateur Cricket Board philosophy of taking cricket to the masses.”

Correctional Services cricket official Gordon Joel thanked the EP Amateur Cricket Board for its efforts with assisting their cricketers and coaches.

“With the national Correctional Services weeks for both men and women just around the corner, we are feeling much more confident of fielding very competitive teams at this year‘s tournaments,” he said.

Weekend Post
June 16, 2007

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