Life has no shortage of compelling and moving stories and good acts undertaken by incredible and generous individuals – and here is one such story. The SACC was privileged to support an evening hosted by the Gary Kirsten Foundation, hearing of Gary’s inspiring and unstinting work to bring cricket to children in the township schools of Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. Gary’s innovative approaches have ensured that the cricket facilities he has installed are built to last, from the nets to the high cost artificial pitch surfaces – low maintenance but very high impact!
The engagement of dedicated cricket coaches to train and develop talent has given impetus and addressed some difficult social problems by bringing communities into an active and vibrant environment – where all are encouraged to succeed and where families are encouraged to participate in their children’s development. Gary has been ever present through the (nearly) three years of this initiative, supported by his family and close friends, Bobby Skinstad and Gaurav Kupur – who added to the evening’s entertainment.
This is all very exciting. Gary has worked with the Chris Hani school, which has turned around underperformance in its children to high attainment – and sport is a significant facet of this amazing story (one of its own, where the Principal’s passion, dedication and resilience have paid off)! Nine schools will have cricket equipment by the end of the year – but it’s an ongoing challenge for the Foundation to raise money to support the townships and create the fundamental change that is so vital for communities to thrive.
Gary’s amazing career runs on, but he insists that his achievement ‘is not about me’. His gifts of creating opportunities and facilities – and he has personally donated so much – create hope. His mantra of ‘the purpose of life is to contribute and to make things better’ resonates for us all in our daily and business lives. He had a vision – he lives the vision. He has touched many people and the affection in which he is held is great – both professionally (the Indian cricket team is a good example) and personally through his Foundation.