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On A Good Wicket Now

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There was a time when the phrases ‘throw like a girl’ or ‘run like a girl’ were considered insults. These days, they’re not; especially not if you are a member of the South African women’s cricket team.

They are the only African side to have qualified for the Women’s World Cup, which is being played in England now. Their presence is a result of steady progression which has peaked over the last three years thanks to increased corporate backing and a more structured cricket program and could show the rest of the continent how rich the rewards of investing in women’s sport can be.

Four years ago, the South African women’s game was managed in much the same way as an amateur competition, where the main reward for involvement was enjoyment. Things started to change in early 2013. Financial institution Momentum had just bought the naming rights to the men’s one-day international squad and the domestic one-day cup and expressed an interest in extending their sponsorship to the women, a property that was not up for sale at the time.

“When we became involved in cricket sponsorship, it was with the intention of getting our brand out here but we also wanted to leave a legacy which showcased our values; things like diversity and gender equality,” says Danie van den Burgh, head of Momentum to FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

“We saw an opportunity in women’s cricket and asked Cricket SA but they told us it was not something they were considering getting a sponsor for because they hadn’t had anyone interested. We wanted to get involved so we made them an offer and from there it just snowballed.”

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Momentum’s money made an immediate impact. Cricket SA could employ a full-time women’s coach, Hilton Moreeng, and awarded six players professional contracts. A year later that number was increased to 14, which meant that a full squad was being paid for their efforts. The effects on the field were immense.

In October 2014, the South African women’s team made their first trip to Sri Lanka – and crucial because that country would also host the World Cup qualifiers three years later – and won. Then, they traveled to India and the United Arab Emirates, notoriously difficult places for teams to tour, and won series against both India and Pakistan. Although the South African women could not repeat those feats at home in the full series against the powerhouses of England and West Indies, they made gains by beating both sides in a single match for the first time. Victories over Bangladesh, Ireland and Zimbabwe followed to confirm South Africa’s presence as one of the better sides in the women’s game and prepare them for what Moreeng hopes will be a successful World Cup.

“We are very excited and proud, especially when we look at where we came from and the amount of work we put in. From Momentum coming on board, to players becoming professional, the number of series we played, and the opportunities to play cricket against top teams in the world and test our skills,” he says.

“This team have been playing together for the last three years so the growth and the maturity of the squad is very good. Performances around the world have been very good. They are a team that travels well and can win away from home.”

England is a challenging destination for touring teams because of conditions. The ball swings early on but South Africa’s women have the resources to deal with that. The top-ranked bowler in the world, Marizanne Kapp, is in their squad, along with four other players who participated in a T20 tournament in the United Kingdom last year.

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Captain Dane van Niekerk, batsman Lizelle Lee and fast bowler Shabnim Ismail, all played for English teams in the Kia Super League – a monetized event similar to the Indian Premier League – last year. Accompanying them to the World Cup are youngsters like Laura Wolvaardt, an 18-year-old who already has a century to her name, and Raisibe Ntozakhe, an offspinner who made her debut in the series directly producing the World Cup and began playing cricket as a six-year-old with boys.

The balance of experience and youth and their common drive is what Van Niekerk hopes will set them apart. “We’ve got a purpose as a team and that’s to win a World Cup. It’s been a long and grueling process to get to this but we all bought into it,” she says.

Moreover, the team have plenty of people they want to impress, not least because they will receive an unprecedented level of coverage. All South Africa’s matches at the Women’s World Cup will be televised on pay channel SuperSport, a massive upsurge considering that the first time they ever appeared on a live broadcast was in 2014.

“It’s awesome to be able to share this with the country. It’s really special for our families because we can’t always get them to other countries so for them to be able to watch one of the biggest tournaments of our careers is really touching,” says Van Niekerk.

South Africa’s increased efforts in promoting the women’s game are a reflection of a changing global trend. At the macro-level, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has realized women’s sport deserves more attention and is providing it. Prize money for the Women’s World Cup has increased ten-fold from $200,000 in 2013 to $2 million this year.

“This is the first step towards greater parity and recognition. The change will not happen overnight but the women’s game is crucial to the global growth of cricket,” says ICC CEO Dave Richardson.

For Cricket SA’s general manager Corrie van Zyl, a massive monetary incentive like that could help convince more women to take up the game and to realize there’s great pride to be taken in throwing and running like a girl.

“It shows them that cricket can become a career,” he says. Touche! – Written by Firdose Moonda

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30 under 30

Applications Open for FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2020

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FORBES AFRICA is on the hunt for Africans under the age of 30, who are building brands, creating jobs and transforming the continent, to join our Under 30 community for 2020.


JOHANNESBURG, 07 January 2020: Attention entrepreneurs, creatives, sport stars and technology geeks — the 2020 FORBES AFRICA Under 30 nominations are now officially open.

The FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list is the most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we are on the hunt for 30 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 spanning these categories: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

Each year, FORBES AFRICA looks for resilient self-starters, innovators, entrepreneurs and disruptors who have the acumen to stay the course in their chosen field, come what may.

Past honorees include Sho Madjozi, Bruce Diale, Karabo Poppy, Kwesta, Nomzamo Mbatha, Burna Boy, Nthabiseng Mosia, Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, Henrich Akomolafe, Davido, Yemi Alade, Vere Shaba, Nasty C and WizKid.

What’s different this year is that we have whittled down the list to just 30 finalists, making the competition stiff and the vetting process even more rigorous. 

Says FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil: “The start of a new decade means the unraveling of fresh talent on the African continent. I can’t wait to see the potential billionaires who will land up on our desks. Our coveted sixth annual Under 30 list will herald some of the decade’s biggest names in business and life.”

If you think you have what it takes to be on this year’s list or know an entrepreneur, creative, technology entrepreneur or sports star under 30 with a proven track-record on the continent – introduce them to FORBES AFRICA by applying or submitting your nomination.

NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS CRITERIA:

Business and Technology categories

  1. Must be an entrepreneur/founder aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Should have a legitimate REGISTERED business on the continent
  3. Business/businesses should be two years or older
  4. Nominees must have risked own money and have a social impact
  5. Must be profit generating
  6. Must employ people in Africa
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Sports category

  1. Must be a sports person aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be representing an African team
  3. Should have a proven track record of no less than two years
  4. Should be making significant earnings
  5. Should have some endorsement deals
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Creatives category

  1. Must be a creative aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be from or based in Africa
  3. Should be making significant earnings
  4. Should have a proven creative record of no less than two years
  5. Must have social influence
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Your entry should include:

  • Country
  • Full Names
  • Company name/Team you are applying with
  • A short motivation on why you should be on the list
  • A short profile on self and company
  • Links to published material / news clippings about nominee
  • All social media handles
  • Contact information
  • High-res images of yourself

Applications and nominations must be sent via email to FORBES AFRICA journalist and curator of the list, Karen Mwendera, on [email protected]

Nominations close on 3 February 2020.

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Sport

The Springboks And The Cup Of Good Hope

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After their epic win beating England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan on November 2, the Springboks returned home to South Africa, undertaking a nation-wide tour, in an open-top bus, holding high the Webb Ellis Cup. In this image, in the township of Soweto, they pass the iconic Vilakazi Street with throngs of screaming, cheering residents and Springbok fans lining the street. The sport united the racially-divided country. For the third time in history, the South African national rugby team was crowned world champions.

Image by Motlabana Monnakgotla

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Déjà vu: South Africa Back to Winning

Our Publisher reflects on the recent Springbok victory in Yokohoma, Japan

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Rugby World Cup 2019, Final: England v South Africa Mtach viewing at Nelson Mandela Square

By Rakesh Wahi, Publisher
FORBES AFRICA

Rugby is as foreign to me as cricket is to the average American. However, having lived in South Africa for 15 years, there is no way to avoid being pulled into the sport. November 2, 2019, is therefore a date that will be celebrated in South Africa’s sporting posterity. In many ways, it’s déjà vu for South Africans; at a pivotal time in history, on June 24, 1995, the Springboks beat the All Blacks (the national rugby team of New Zealand) in the final of the World Cup. The game united a racially-divided country coming out of apartheid and at the forefront of this victory was none other than President Nelson Mandela or our beloved Madiba. In a very symbolic coincidence, 24 years later, history repeated itself.

South Africans watched with pride as Siya Kolisi lifted the gold trophy in Yokohama, Japan, as had Francois Pienaar done so 24 years ago in Johannesburg. My mind immediately reflected on this extremely opportune event in South Africa’s history.

The last decade has not been easy; the country has slipped into economic doldrums from which there seems to be no clear path ahead. The political transition from the previously corrupt regime has not been easy and it has been disheartening to see a rapid deterioration in the economic condition of the country. The sad reality is that there literally seems to be no apparent light at the end of the tunnel; with blackouts and load-shedding, a currency that is amongst the most volatile in the world, rising unemployment and rising crime amongst many other issues facing the country.

Rakesh Wahi, Publisher Forbes Africa

Something needed to change. There was a need for an event to change this despondent state of mind and the South African rugby team seems to have given a glimmer of hope that could not have come at a more opportune time. As South African flags were flying all over the world on November 2, something clicked to say that there is hope ahead and if people come together under a common mission, they can be the change that they want to see.

Isn’t life all about hope? Nothing defies gravity and just goes up; Newton taught us that everything that goes up will come down. Vicissitudes are a part of life and the true character of people, society or a nation is tested on how they navigate past these curve balls that make us despair. As we head into 2020, it is my sincere prayer that we see a new dawn and a better future in South Africa with renewed vigor and vitality.

Talking about sports and sportsmen, there is another important lesson that we need to take away. Having been a sportsman all my life, I have had a belief that people who have played team sports like cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey etc make great team players and leaders. However, other sports like golf, diving and squash teach you focus. In all cases, the greatest attribute of all is how to reset your mind after adversity. While most of us moved on after amateur sports to find our place in the world, the real sportspeople to watch and learn from are professionals. It is their grit and determination.

My own belief is that one must learn how to detach from a rear view mirror. You cannot ignore what is behind you because that is your history; you must learn from it. Our experiences are unique and so is our history. It must be our greatest teacher. However, that’s where it must end. As humans, we must learn to break the proverbial rear view mirror and stop worrying about the past. You cannot change what is behind you but you can influence and change what is yet to come.

I had the good fortune of playing golf with Chester Williams (former rugby player who was the first person of color to play for the Springboks in the historic win in 1995 and sadly passed away in September 2019) more than once at the SuperSport Celebrity Golf Shootout.

Chester played his golf fearlessly; perhaps the way he led his life. He would drive the ball 300 meters and on occasion went into the woods or in deep rough. Psychologically, as golfers know, this sets you back just looking at a bad lie, an embedded or unplayable ball or a dropped shot in a hazard. For a seasoned golfer, it is not the shot that you have hit but the one that you are about to hit. Chester has a repertoire of recovery shots and always seemed to be in the game even after some wayward moments. There is a profound lesson in all of this. You have to blank your mind from the negativity or sometimes helplessness and bring a can do and positive frame of reference back into your game (and life). Hit that recovery shot well and get back in the game; that’s what champions do.

We need to now focus our attention on the next shot and try and change the future than stay in the past.

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