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Kit Handover by Mike Gatting & Lord's Taverners

Kit handover done by Mike Gatting and the UK Lord’s Taverners at the Ukhanyo Primary School, as part of the Masi 750 Club project run by former South African fast bowler Vincent van der Bijl.

Celebrities from the world of sport and showbusiness left a sporting legacy to the children of the Masiphumelele township on a recent visit - thanks to the UK’s leading youth sport and disability charity the Lord’s Taverners.

Jonnie Irwin, presenter of Channel 4’s A Place In The Sun, joined former England cricket captain Mike Gatting to take time out of the charity’s Celebrity Cricket XI tour to Cape Town to visit the project and announce a long-term partnership to support the township’s only primary school with regular deliveries of recycled sports equipment.

As part of the Lord’s Taverners Sports Kit Recycling Programme, the duo delivered cricket equipment to the MCC Masi 750 Sports club which included a donation of bats, bags and batting pads and gloves from The Cricketer Magazine and Gunn and Moore Cricket.

The MCC Masi 750 Sports club has rejuvenated sport at the only primary school, Ukhanyo, in the Masiphumelele township of 45,000 residents who live in just half a square kilometre and they will now receive regular shipments of equipment from the UK charity. Ukhanyo with its almost 2,000 pupils is an amazing energetic academic institution. Yet, up to 2017, it had limited sport facilities.

Now it boasts two artificial sports fields, three cricket nets and runs 17 teams across six sports – made possible through the support of local partners and a grant from the MCC. “I’ve never been to a township before and it’s hard to put into words what we have seen – humbling doesn’t even come close to it,” explained Irwin who was in Cape Town as a member of the Lord’s Taverners celebrity cricket XI tour to raise awareness for the charity and its sister organisation Lord’s Taverners South Africa.

“But you can see the difference that sport is making. You can see that the kids here are living in abject poverty but as soon as you get close to the sports fields, you are greeted with a cacophony of noise of them all having fun and competing hard. “You can see that everything they are going through is forgotten when they are on a sports field – it’s something that has really resonated with me.

“This programme is so important. When you see the delight these kids get from picking a new shiny cricket ball out of a bag to replace the old thing that looks more like a Rubik’s cube, it’s just so rewarding and more importantly such a simple thing we can all do. “I’m as guilty as any of hoarding sports kit in the cupboard. So please, it you are not using it, please donate it to us as you can see how much it means. It’s items we can replace for a few pounds, but for these youngsters, it’s the gateway to them playing and learning the life lessons that we know sport can give you.”

Vince van der Bijl, former Natal and Middlesex fast bowler, helped to lay the building blocks of the project to provide the resources to sustain a fully-fledged sports programme within the community. He added: “Everything we do is focussed on education and building life skills and when you add in an after-school activity, which for us is sport, it can be a real game-changer. We’re giving these young people the self confidence and self-worth to go out and make something of themselves and the donation of the kit helps make that happen.

“We’re so grateful to everyone who supports us and this, along with any future donations, will make a real difference to the lives of these young people – you cannot underestimate the impact it will have.”

© Cricket World 2020