Cricket South Africa (CSA) has announced that over 600 schools will participate in the second edition of the Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge, which starts on Monday, 4 October.
The Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge is the only nationally coordinated schools cricket programme in South Africa, and forms a vital part of the CSA cricket development pipeline, which aims to give a young cricketer the ideal preparation for life as a future Protea.
The inaugural edition, which attracted 349 schools, was well received by the youth cricket community.
CSA CEO Gerald Majola is confident this tournament will grow.
"Our initial plan was to pilot this programme last year, and look to increase the number of schools to 500 within three years, but the feedback from players, coaches, and parents alike, has been overwhelming, and we easily surpassed that target.
"Loyal partners are vital when attempting to grow a tournament as significant as this and CSA is grateful to Standard Bank for its ongoing support of our cricket development initiatives. We have the opportunity to do something today to shape tomorrow, and we see the Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge as the ideal platform to positively influence the cricket careers of young players.
"Last year, we had some exciting young talent emerge, and it is important that we continue to churn out tomorrow's stars, in the hope that they will go on to fulfil their dreams. This is a format that will inspire the youth to a greater level of participation in the belief that they too can achieve the highest honours.
"Cricket is no longer exclusive to the orthodox, conservative player, and encourages a new type of temperament and skill set amongst the youth. So much more cricket can be played and experienced in a much shorter period of time, exposing far wider participation and a new vibe and excitement amongst young cricketers and their teen support base. The Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge is definitely cracking schools cricket."
"The Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge is a brilliant display of the youthful talent in our country. Throughout the tournament young cricketers develop their skills in a competitive environment, whilst encouraging sportsmanship and the forging of new friendships. This tournament is a natural breeding ground for the next generation of domestic and national players," says Jonty Rhodes, Standard Bank Group Sponsorship Manager. High School Menlopark won the inaugural title, when they beat Maritzburg College by two runs in the final held at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria. Their captain, Richardt Frenz, says the competition has brought a new energy into youth cricket. "The Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge is an amazing platform for schools cricket. It has brought in an exciting competitive atmosphere for youth cricketers and the second year will definitely be a great honour for all those involved.
"Participating in the inaugural competition was a fantastic experience, and it was even more special because we were the first team to lift the trophy. The opportunity to play in coloured clothes and with the white ball has developed another aspect of my cricket and hopefully all of the boys taking part will enjoy it and use the competition to grow their cricket."
The twenty-over competition will see knock out round robin tournaments played in each region around the country. By 31 January, it will be down to the wire, with only the top provincial teams vying for a spot in the Franchise Finals on 6 February. From there, only the six top teams will play in the Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge final on 19 and 20 February 2011 in Stellenbosch.
This format means that skills recognition and cricket achievement is recognized sooner and development processes start at a much earlier stage of a player's career, providing for greater depth and experience, as well as exposure to a highly competitive environment, a must for a professional career in cricket.
CSA Youth Cricket Manager Niels Momberg is excited about getting the tournament started.
"The first edition of the Standard Bank Schools Pro20 Challenge proved a tremendous boost to schools cricket in South Africa. The format gives smaller schools the chance to compete against more established and bigger schools.
"The presence of Noord-Kaap and the eventual winners High School Menlopark at the national finals proved that anybody can walk away with the spoils. I cannot wait for the matches to start to see which schools will emerge as frontrunners in this season's edition."
For more on Standard Bank Group's involvement in cricket, see www.standardbankcricket.com.
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