Gary Kirsten launched the CATCH Trust, the new brand of the Gary Kirsten Foundation, on Friday 20 January 2023, at a fun-filled youth cricket tournament on the artificial turf at the Township Centre of Cricket Excellence at Chris Hani Secondary School in Khayelitsha.
“Nine years ago I visited Khayelitsha on a fact-finding mission and I was shocked not to find one sports field in the township. It became my mission to establish first-class facilities and coaching that would give kids an equal chance at the game of cricket,” said Kirsten.
CATCH is an acronym for ‘Cricket and Talent Centres of Hope’ and its slogan ‘Talent is Universal, Opportunity isn’t’, is a phrase close to Kirsten’s heart.
“I’m a perfect example of someone who received all the opportunity I could have to explore my talents, and the Trust aims at providing similar opportunities for very talented young kids who just don’t get the same opportunity.”
After nine years, five schools, a UK World Cup Tour and a Centre of Cricket Excellence including an artificial field and indoor practice facility in Khayelitsha, why the name and brand change from the Gary Kirsten Foundation?
“The reason for the change is that I didn’t want the Foundation, which has progressed to a significant level now, to be limited to my name. We felt that there was a greater opportunity here for other stakeholders to be involved in a project that could actually go much bigger than what we’ve been able to achieve with the Foundation.”
Despite the change of name, Kirsten will still be actively involved as Chairman and Founder, and the same guiding principles from which the GKF was originally formed, have been distilled into three key pillars from which the CATCH Trust will operate.
“Good infrastructure and facilities; great local coaches who are qualified, skilled and knowledgeable of the players in their community; and thirdly, the kids need to be playing matches, they need to be playing cricket.”
He went further to explain that CATCH is expanding the scope of the work to go beyond just the cricket field.
“Cricket is our language, and our vehicle, but it goes much deeper than that.”
Madoda Mahlutshana, who first took Kirsten to schools in Khayelitsha in 2014 as the then-headmaster of Chris Hani Secondary School, and now is a Trustee of CATCH, expands on this theme.
“It’s about social cohesion, it’s very important what sport does to bridge the gap (between privileged and under-privileged South Africans)”
“We are using sport as a unifying factor, to say we are all equal and we can learn from each other whilst we’re playing sport.”
The CATCH Trust has exciting plans for 2023, with a Young Women and Girls Cricket and Empowerment Programme launching during the Women’s World Cup in February, an expansion of the Centre of Excellence to include a connected Classroom space for education and employability programmes, as well as launching a programme in the Eastern Cape.