Sahara Computers' sponsorship of the Sahara St. David's Twenty 20 Schools Cricket Festival has brought about a singular opportunity for tomorrow's cricket stars to take to the pitch against current professionals and icons of the past.
The annual festival, which this year runs from 11 September to 14 September, is hosted by St. David's Marist Inanda and will provide a platform for the best school players to launch careers and ultimately gain national recognition.
This year visitors to the festival will once again see a number of high schools participating, including: St David's, King Edward VII, St Stithians College, St Johns College, St Albans, Affies, Maritzburg College, Grey College (Bloem), Grey High School (PE), Hudson Park (EL), Pretoria Boys High (PTA), KPT X1 (Development Team Gauteng Provincial players U19) and St Charles (PMB).
Schoolboys from each school and the Development IX will make up a combined Schools XI to play against a team of legends, the Legends XI comprising heroes of the sport, both past and present.
This year sees the addition of a live Supersportbroadcast of the featured match between these two sides, with a number of high profile cricketers taking part, including Fanie de Villiers, Makhaya Ntini, Neil McKenzie, JP Duminy, Loots Bosman, Gulam Bodi amongst others. The team coach will be former South Afican wicket keeper and Proteas coach Ray Jennings who is also the current SA U19 coach so its presents a great opportunity for the boys to showcase their talents.
The featured match will be on Saturday, 13 September between 11am and 2:30pm and will be broadcast live on Supersport 5.
Sahara Computers is a primary naming rights sponsor of the event, which originated through Kent Park Taverners (KPT) and first took place in September 2007.
The global company and supplier of information, communication and digital lifestyle technology is widely recognized for its ongoing contribution towards the growth and development of the sport in South Africa.
Atul Gupta, chairman and MD at Sahara, believes the company's involvement represents a meaningful and lasting contribution to the sport, at all levels.
"Corporate sponsorship in sport is critical, few would debate this point. But we have truly embraced this responsibility and opportunity to grow our participation to the point where we are making a real impact on the future of the game and its athletes. It is rare for players at school to have an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to an audience of this size and stature, but even more unique is the opportunity to test their skills against recognized local icons and highly experienced players," says Gupta.
Shane Gaffney, spokesperson for St. David's Marist, echoed the points raised by Gupta and said sponsorship is vital for initiatives like this to be established and sustained. There are long-term objectives in addition to the immediate benefits.
"This is a national festival which offers players an opportunity to be exposed to this format of the game. It is really about developing the quality of players with the idea that this experience, of the format and of engaging with highly experienced and recognized players, will add value to involvement in other, longer formats of the sport, such as one day international and tests. We would like to see an increase in spectator value and general appreciation for the game, and we are indebted to our sponsors for their continued support," adds Gaffney.