The youth want connectivity, enjoyment, participation and competition. They want to feel part of something greater than themselves, says the writer. Picture: JEWEL SAMAD / AFP
The youth want connectivity, enjoyment, participation and competition. They want to feel part of something greater than themselves, says the writer. Picture: JEWEL SAMAD / AFP

Natural or man-made disasters and challenges lead to great learning for all — even in cricket.

The coronavirus is changing global perspectives in the way that the 1929 stock market crash and World War 2 did. These challenges shook the world, and leaders — with the support of their people and communities — changed behaviours and philosophies for the common good.

In times of crisis, religion, race and economic standing become irrelevant. Similarly, in SA in 1994, the previously heinous apartheid beliefs were transformed to a glorious communal Technicolor, with Nelson Mandela as president.

These mini reformations lead to a softening of countries’ economic, political and social approaches, leading to more caring and sharing policies and a sense of oneness, seldom seen in history.

Nations globally, having suffered together in war and financial catastrophe, recognised the need to embrace the disadvantaged and needy. The hard times bound them as a family and as a nation.

The coronavirus pandemic is teaching us to be more inclusive, more community orientated, more responsible as citizens and more caring. About time.

 

These significant shifts did not last long. Soon the old divisions, egos and greed resurfaced in full flight.

Now is our time to make these changes more permanent. In this time of crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa is showing us the way. His leadership is so different from the prevailing doctrines of “my country only” nationalism, driven by populist leaders, with wealth the only criteria for success. Lead on, Mr President.

The coronavirus pandemic is teaching us to be more inclusive, more community orientated, more responsible as citizens and more caring. About time.

No-one country or community can fight the virus alone. This is a unique time calling for unique shifts in the way we operate.

That holds the following lessons for cricket:

  • The big three — India, England and Australia — as leaders of world cricket need to share more equitably, to ensure cricket’s sustainable and profitable future.
  • Growth of youth participation numbers is the key for cricket’s future. This cannot be achieved by the lion’s share of revenue going to top up the already wealthy First World leading cricket nations.
  • The youth want connectivity, enjoyment, participation and competition. They want to feel part of something greater than themselves. WhatsApp and Facebook give them connectivity and reach; Fortnite, Minecraft and other games give them that participation, competition and exposure. Cricket in SA needs to adapt to give the children that same satisfaction and excitement.
  • We need to allow the youth to play, compete and shine. We need shorter pitches, smaller teams, all players bowling and batting, and shorter matches. This will spread the joy and excitement in playing the game — not, as currently the case of many kids, spectating even though they are in the team. These changes will bring families and communities back to the game.
  • Scotland, New Zealand as well as Australia and England have done just that. Their cricket is being driven by innovative changes in youth cricket, with the resultant growth in participation.
  • Children learn by experimenting and doing, not by being told what to do. Home schooling shows us that, if we observe and listen.
  • The SA government needs to unlock our sporting potential by ensuring that the more than 20,000 schools with almost no after-school activities can get to participate. Education, sport and life skills will change many underprivileged youths from feeling downtrodden to feeling alive with the possibilities of a fulfilling life.
  • Cricket SA, also, need to genuinely embrace the work done by so many academies and foundations, many run by former players such as Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Jacques Kallis, Gary Kirsten and Brad Bing. By doing this, Cricket SA can ensure our pathway is crowded with talent.

These required changes are not difficult. Collaboration and working together for the common good is the way forward. That is the great lesson to learn from the coronavirus.

We can start right now in the time of lockdown. All involved in sport, from parents to national federations, need to plan how we can stimulate the kids as they return to school.

With a little planning, we can increase participation in sport and after-school activities. Schools, organisations and federations can schedule competitive matches more often against other schools in all sports, from the very first day at school. We need too to have more teams than usual, playing matches.

This release of pent-up energy and the sheer joy of participation and competition will encourage more children to play sport.

Let us who are involved in community and school sport collaborate to give the youth countrywide an amazing series of sports events to shout about and enjoy when they return to school.

What a great sporting opportunity.