The heat is on and it is time to hit the beach for the start of one of South Africa’s best loved children’s sporting festivals, the 2008 Pick n Pay Calypso Cricket Festival, in association with Virgin Active, Let’s Play and Sporting Chance.
The annual cricket ‘road show’ kicks off on Monday 24 November on Addington Beach in Durban and will travel down the coast through nine regions involving 14 festivals and finally ending in Cape Town on Friday 12 December.
An exciting new addition to this year’s festival is the ‘Find a Calypso Fast Bowler’ drive which is set to uncover new bowling talent amongst the expected 8000 nine to fifteen year old participants. The festival, started by Brad Bing of youth sports development agency Sporting Chance in 1990, is an annual highlight for the thousands of children who participate every year.
Children are bussed in from their communities to their local festival site where they pit their skills against fellow cricket enthusiasts. The “Find a Calypso Fast Bowler” drive will be undertaken at each festival with the aim of seeking out a promising new Makhaya Ntini or Dale Steyn. Over the years the festival has been recognised as a vehicle for identifying local talent, for fostering a love of cricket and sport in general and as an opportunity to provide a large number of children with a fun filled holiday activity.
Bing, who is passionate about the positive benefits that sport can bring to children’s lives, says the Pick n Pay Calypso Cricket Festival was borne from a desire to introduce large numbers of kids to cricket and to bring the various communities and cultures of South Africa together. Traditionally played in the cricket-crazy West Indies, Calypso Cricket is a fun adaptation of the conventional game, where two teams of ten players engage in play on a sand pitch. Since its early introduction in South Africa, the game has garnered much enthusiasm from children of all ages and the thousands of would-be Kallis’, Ntinis, Smiths, Pollocks and Gibbs’, who descend upon the beaches at the end-of-year holidays, are testament to this.
Aside from a trip to the beach for many children who would otherwise not have this kind of opportunity, the festival highlights Bing’s determination to encourage sport as a fixture in children’s lives. “All boys and girls should ideally be exposed to sport and a healthy lifestyle,” says Bing. “Research has shown you develop your habits by the age of 12yrs. If you’re not playing sport or leading an active and healthy lifestyle by then, the chances are that sport and physical activity will not feature in your adult lifestyle”.
Kim Webster CSR Manager for Virgin Active added: “Virgin Active is really excited about the multi-faceted opportunity that this festival provides to children. They have fun, they make friends and more importantly, they gain access to great coaching skills to develop them as cricketers. Virgin Active is proud to be associated with a vision of development and sustainable impact on the lives our nation’s children.”