Bay club struggles to keep going

POOR FACILITIES: The nets at the Finnish Street Cricket Ground which have been damaged and vandalised. The Northville Cricket Club uses the ground
POOR FACILITIES: The nets at the Finnish Street Cricket Ground which have been damaged and vandalised. The Northville Cricket Club uses the ground

THIS letter serves as an eye-opener to the community of Port Elizabeth, that all is not well for the sport of cricket in the northern areas. Northville Cricket Club currently is competing in Port Elizabeth’s premier league and has to compete against clubs with elite facilities, players and infrastructure.

The club is based at the Finnis Street Cricket Grounds in the Bloemendal area. Bloemendal is an historically disadvantaged area and poverty is rife among its residents.

The majority of the club’s players come from Bloemendal.

The RDP housing area of Timothy Valley is situated right behind the Finnis Street Cricket Grounds. Finnis is a municipal field.

EP Cricket is the body governing cricket in the province. Both these institutions have an obligation to further the sport of cricket in historically disadvantaged areas such as the northern areas.

Timothy Valley is renowned for drugs and crime. Northville has been battling for years to counteract and recover from constant theft and vandalism of club training facilities.

Recently all the poles and netting around the training nets and from most of the boundary wall surrounding the field were removed by criminals.

The clubhouse, built by the metro, is a white elephant, because it is not accessible to the club and its members. It is simply standing in the sun and being vandalised further as time goes by.

The bowling run-ups are severely indented, which has caused several players, including myself, to injure their ankles and the risk is there that a player may seriously injure himself. On one occasion club members were not able to use the dressing room, because a man was smoking drugs there and refused to leave until he had completed doing what he was there to do.

The groundsman allegedly knew that he was there and didn’t do anything about the issue.

The cricket season commenced at the beginning of October and the cricket pitch has not been worked on by the municipality at all. Northville will in all likelihood have to play on alternative fields or lose the points due to the field not being prepared.

This would mean more expense for the members of the club who now would have to pay extra for transport. The players cannot train, because there is no facility to train on, despite being committed to the sport.

Club members on countless occasions had to sacrifice their own time and money to prepare the cricket pitch and repair the cricket nets, because EP Cricket and the municipality are simply not up to the task of performing the basic functions they are mandated to fulfil. Several complaints were lodged with EP Cricket and the municipality over the years and still there is no progress regarding the circumstances. No plan has been devised or implemented to stop the steady decline.

Minimal results were achieved over the years.

Basic functions like cutting the grass on time are not done efficiently. It has been a constant fight for survival for the club and it is clear that there is no real attempt to implement proper law enforcement, field maintenance and facility upgrading from the custodians of the field and the sport.

The club has no external funding, operates on a shoestring budget, and cannot keep up with the expenditure and demands involved in trying to maintain the field and training facilities. The effects of this constant struggle have been negative, in that senior players of the club have recently left for neighbouring clubs.

Soon there will be no more quality players left to play for Northville.

We cannot be expected to compete in the premier league if we do not have the facilities even to practise the basics of the sport.

I appeal to the community of Port Elizabeth to support Northville Cricket Club and its members, by coming up with suggestions and possible solutions to the challenges faced by the club and its members.

I have run out of ideas already, because the community, EP Cricket and the metro have failed us dismally.

I can be contacted on e-mail, if there is any positive feedback.

Clint Jacobs, member, Northville Cricket Club, Port Elizabeth

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