Never give up, urges young cricketer
From Langa to Bangalore
VEZOKUHLE Mntungwa has come a long way since he trailed around the streets of Langa as a little boy, learning to play soccer then cricket from the bigger boys.
Recently returned from representing South Africa in the U19 side in a match against Sri Lanka, the Somerset College Grade 11 pupil now has more success in his sights.
Vezi, as the 16-year-old is known, has represented the province many times since he was 11.
He captained the U14 Western Cape Cape Invitational when they played in Bangalore in 2013 and represented the same team the following year in New Delhi.
“Going to Sri Lanka to represent my country was an honour and a great experience. I didn’t achieve what I had planned (they drew the series and lost the ODI), but I definitely learnt so much, not just about cricket but about who I really am.
“The lessons I learnt there would have taken me three to four years to learn, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”
On the lessons learnt, he said the most important was self-belief; how to cope with pressure and how to face his fears.
“I figured out why I was selected for the team, which led to me recognising my strengths and areas of growth. Being part of a team filled with amazing cricketers you look at how they go about their game and how they prepare for a game, and I stole a few tricks from them.”
Of his childhood in Langa, Vezi said he was grateful to his mother, who never put pressure “on me to do anything, and with that I became independent and followed my heart”.
There is some cricket in his blood: his uncle Melusi Mntungwa played cricket from 1978 to 2003. He was involved in the Langa Cricket Club and was secretary for some time.
The keeper-batsman said it had been his friends who sparked his passion for sport.
“I arrived in Cape Town from the Eastern Cape at around age 6. I had a friend who played soccer so I followed him around and eventually joined the team. I loved soccer so much, prob- ably more than cricket.
“When the season for cricket began my friends and I switched over to cricket. Since I didn’t fancy the sport I stayed playing soccer until I felt lonely without my friends and decided to move.”
But once he started playing cricket, it wasn’t long until his skill was noticed.
Although he has seen much success already, Vezi admitted there were challenges.
“Firstly, it’s really hard being a black cricketer because there is always pressure for me to do well on match day.
“My other challenge is not having money to buy the equipment. Luckily I am being sponsored right now and being given the best quality equipment. My sponsors have so much faith and trust in my cricket ability.”
A further challenge was finding the time to practice with his coaches, who he was far from since moving to Somerset West.
“There are a lot of coaches who have helped me since I was growing up. I am still in contact with my coach from Grade 8, Shukri Abrahams, from the Western Cape Sports School.
“He has been making the effort to drive from Kuils River to train me whenever he can.”
Vezi is busy with off-season training, but when the season starts at school, he’s looking forward to implementing what he’s learnt abroad.
“My biggest goal is to string together match- winning performances at the Khaya Majola U19 National Week and the National Cubs Week in order to earn my selection once again for the South African U19 team,” the young cricketer said.
He hopes to be selected to play in the 2018 U19 World Cup in New Zealand.
“To the young cricketers from disadvantaged backgrounds who feel like there’s no hope for them, my advice is to work hard.
“With your hunger to succeed must come hard work and planning, being independent and trying to find people to assist you.
“Never give up or doubt your talent.” firstname.lastname@example.org
U19 SA cricketer Vezokuhle Matungwa, who has been travelling the world playing cricket, practises in the nets with his coach, Rudolph Buys at Somerset College, where he is a pupil.