TIGER Titan cricketer and President’s Award member Masixole Mkrakra received a standing ovation at the Sporting Heroes Dinner at Lord’s Cricket Ground in England last Wednesday.
The dinner was attended by His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex who is chairman of the international council of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association as well as and a number of well-known international sporting heroes.
Former South African Springbok rugby captain John Smit, British paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, former English spin bowler Derek Underwood, former international tennis star Boris Becker, former All Blacks rugby player Zinzan Brooke and internationally renowned yachtsmen Tony Bullimore and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston were in attendance.
MEETING MADIBA (SORT OF: While in London last week for a gala dinner at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Masixole Mkrakra and Ross McCreath of Bathurst’s Tiger Titans took time out from their busy schedule to explore some of the sights of London. They posed with a statue of former President Nelson Mandela outside the Houses of Parliament. Madiba was the founding patron-in-chief of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment Picture: SUPPLIED
In his speech Mkrakra said it was an honour beyond his biggest dreams to be invited to speak at the dinner. He said both the Tiger Titans and The President’s Award had changed his life in so many ways.
His father passed away when he was three and his mother when he was 13. He went to live with his grandmother with eight other family members, in a small government house of 50 square metres.
When his gogo passed away in 2010, his aunt Nomalungelo Ngesi took everyone in. She is a farm worker and is the only provider in the house.
“I am very thankful for her big heart,” said Mkrakra who is now 20 and in Grade 11 at Velile Secondary School.
He said Nolukhanyo township had little to offer young people.
“Our schools do not provide us with any after school activities. Children often play in the streets, and the older ones get involved in bad things. Many young people of my age get involved in crime. They drink, they have nothing to do and they have no role models,” he said.
Duzi Mkalipi, who played cricket at Port Alfred High School, approached Mkrakra in December 2007 to join the cricket lessons Tiger Titans founder Ross McCreath was giving at the overgrown old cricket field across the road from the township.
One of the happiest days of his life was when South African wicket keeper Mark Boucher sent some items from his personal kit and Mkrakra wore his green wicky pads in his first match.
McCreath said that if he could have picked a brother, he would have picked Mkrakra.
“He is humble, quiet, driven and innovative. He will never say no and always offers a helping hand. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave and he is what every boy should strive to be,” said McCreath.
Chief executive of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, Martin Scholtz, said it was a privilege to be at Lord’s to hear Mkrakra reflect on the impact of the award programme and the Tiger Titans on his life.
“He is a humble young man with a deep sense of self and he delivered his speech with confidence and poise. He received a standing ovation. A man next to me had tears in his eyes,” he said.
“Masixole is a symbol of the impact of the award programme on the life of a young person in South Africa. He is a remarkable young man and we hope to see him back at Lord’s in the future playing cricket for South Africa.”
While he was in London, Mkrakra met with the South African high commissioner, Dr Zola Sweyiya, at South Africa House. The trip to London was made possible by the International Award Association’s World Fellowship and British Airways.