Mission to put girls’ cricket on the map

Promising... Owam Mpulu, a member of Khayelitshas Gary Kirsten Foundation girls side in action during an under-14 fixture.

Picture: fuad esack

The former women’s team provincial player isleading the under-14 side on a Summer Games cricket tournament in the country’s capital, Pretoria, this week.

Although the bulk of the provincial team players are from Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Paarl and South Western District, Zothe said 12 of her under-13 girls from Khayelitsha and neighbouring locations are representing the provincial under-14 and under-19 teams.

She said over the years, there has been a major improvement in girls and women’s cricket in the area, however, it still has a long way to go as she is one of the few female coaches.

The former Boland College, Strand Campus pupil, led the Khayelitsha-based Gary Kirsten Foundation’s (GKF) under-14 girls team to the final against Victoria Cricket Club during the JP21 tournament last month.

Due to poor light, the final could not be completed, but at the end of the day, youth cricket won.

Originally from the Eastern Cape, Zothe first held the cricket bat at the age of 12 while at Dalubuhle Junior Secondary School in Mthatha. She went on to represent Kei Cricket Board, formerly known as Transkei Cricket Association, a first-class cricket team in Mthatha that’s played a major role in rural cricket development since 1994.

Zothe then moved to Cape Town in 2014 to further her education and cricket career, before representing the Western Province women’s team last season. Due to health issues, she had to quit the provincial team after playing only a season, but this led to her new love of the sport, in coaching.

Zothe coaches from mini-cricket up until under-19 cricket.

“I started coaching the Gary Kirsten Foundation two years ago as a volunteer. On the other side, I coached Khayelitsha Cricket Hub. GKF girls under-14 participated in the JP21 tournament and won all their first three games and went for finals,” she said.

“I started playing cricket when I was 12 or 13. I joined the boys’ team since there was no girls cricket in my school at the time. I just fell in love with it after watching the boys play. I’ve played cricket for over 10 years. I played for KEI cricket team which is in Eastern Cape. I then joined the Western Province in 2018. I played for one season then stopped due to health issues. I also played for Khayelitsha Cricket Club. I’m no longer playing now, I’m only coaching,” she said.

Zothe said the trials for her provincial team were held in Boland where they had to choose a strong team to represent the Western Cape at the Summer Games in Pretoria. Zothe hopes to take her experience back to plough in the community.

“In Khayelitsha, I’m the only female coach, hence I specialise in girls’ cricket. My dream is to inspire more girls to be cricket coaches since it’s known to be a “men’s” sport. I’d love to see more girls play cricket or at least participate in any other sport for the sake of their own health and well being. That can also reduce the crime rate,” said Zothe.