Never give up, urges young crick­eter

From Langa to Ban­ga­lore

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SINOLWAZI APRIL

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.”


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.

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