nyoka batting for unity

Mtutuzeli Nyoka is striving for cohesion within the troubled Cricket South Africa.

Mtutuzeli Nyoka is striving for cohesion within the troubled Cricket South Africa.

The newly elected CSA president said he will move heaven and earth to ensure that there is unity in the cricket board.

In a face-to-face interview held in Johannesburg recently, Nyoka, a doctor by profession, opened his heart to Sowetan's Meshack Khotha about the unhealthy situation in cricket.

MK: How do you feel about your election?

MN: Obviously, I am honoured about the election. One does not just become president of Cricket South Africa. It is always usually some privilege and honour that is bestowed upon you by your colleagues. So I feel honoured

MK: What are the challenges ahead?

MN: There are quite a few challenges. I think the one thing that society is aware of is the obvious disunity that has affected the board over the past three to four months. We need to ensure that there is unity within the board.

We need to work on that seriously and we are succeeding. It is important to stay united.

The most difficult task becomes very easy if we face it as a united organisation. So unity is the first thing.

The other thing that we are busy dealing with is development. Most areas don't have facilities to play the game. And, where there are facilities children don't have equipment. Sometimes where there is equipment, we don't have the necessary personnel such as coaches to coach the young ones.

Development is something that we need to do as a priority because it is essential for the growth of the game within the community - black and white.

In terms of development we have to focus on the youth. And for me schools cricket is the priority

We need to work with the department of education and ensure that schools that currently don't play cricket do so. We cannot do so on our own because we don't have the resources to equip 28 000 schools in SA.

But with the cooperation of the government, particularly with the department of sport and recreation, we should be able to make some headway in that direction. So development is very important as well.

We are very proud as a nation and our dreams are big. We have to win the Cricket World Cup. I am very confident we can do that with the players and coaching staff that we have and the other excellent people that are involved in cricket.

MK: Why is there not enough funding for schools cricket and amateur cricket?

MN: You know, the sponsors unfortunately tend to give money to professional sports. It is all part of putting their commercial interests above everything else. Very little money is available for amateur sport.

We have to talk to sponsors and make them aware that for the professional wing to thrive and succeed we need to have sound amateur sport. And then again, government also has to come into partnership and provide resources both financially and in terms of equipment and personnel to assist us.

We don't have those kind of resources to support amateur sport. Partnerships between business, sport federations and government are essential for amateur sport to thrive in this country.

MK: What is the position of the government and local government in terms of cricket support?

MN: There has been some interaction between our provincial boards, particularly in Gauteng, with the provincial governments. The good thing is that we are talking and I think our objectives are the same.

In terms of funding I am not sure how much has come from the provincial government to assist us. But the province has been very good.

They give us concessions in terms of raising taxes. I am quite happy with the way things are shaping up now. The relationship between federations and local government is going a long way in terms of maintaining facilities. We cannot maintain sports facilities as a federation as that is not our responsibility.

It is the responsibility of local government and we need to make sure that the facilities are maintained otherwise it may just become impossible to play on those fields.

MK: You were quoted saying cricket is in the right hands. What did you mean by that?

MN: What I mean is that there is an abundance of skilled people in cricket both from the commercial and administrative sides. We have the expertise in all aspects, and all I ask is we allow these people to do their job.

We just need to create a platform for these people to do their work. With very little interference the results will come.

MK: Prior to his resignation, former president Norman Arendse claimed massive division in the administration of the sport. Your comment on that.

MN: We have to work as a united team because there are tensions and we need to deal with them. Some are of a personal nature and we have to sort them out while some are not.

You know people are generally concerned about issues of governance and we have to deal with those things. But differences are normal in any organisation. I think differences of opinion are normal and unavoidable in any institution.

It is how you manage them that matters and we are trying to work on that.

We want to manage this difference of opinion in a proper and constructive way that does not divide the organisation. We must maintain the unity. That is what we must strive for.

MK: What is your background in cricket.

MN: My relationship with cricket is close to 40 years now. I started playing cricket as a little boy in the late 1960s. I started my administration career in 1988.

It was an environment more than the family in which I lived. We had Khaya Majola, Dan Qeqe next door, and Winkie Ximiya, who is now a selector for the Proteas, living around the corner. As young boys growing up in the area our relationship was based on cricket in summer and rugby in winter.