MARCH 2011
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Jack Cheetham winners (left to right) Ross McCreath, Mduduzi Mkalipi and Anne McCreath
Jack Cheetham winners (left to right) Ross McCreath, Mduduzi Mkalipi and Anne McCreath

Murray & Roberts celebrates sporting excellence in severely challenged communities with two annual sports development awards.

The 2010 Jack Cheetham Memorial Award was presented to Tiger Titans Cricket Club from the Eastern Cape, and Boccia for the Severely Physically Disabled won the Murray & Roberts Letsema Award. The winners were selected in recognition of their sporting excellence and significant community impact.

The winners of the two awards each receive prize money of R500 000, payable over five years. These awards are funded by the Letsema Sizwe Broad-Based Community Trust, part of the broad-based BEE shareholder structure established by Murray & Roberts in 2005.

Tiger Titans Cricket Club

When a 14-year-old schoolboy from the small Eastern Cape farming community of Bathurst decided to start a cricket club for boys from the impoverished Nolukanye township in December 2007, he did it to give them something to do during the school holidays. What Ross McCreath may not have realised at the time was the miracle his plan would unlock.

About the awards

The Jack Cheetham Memorial Award was initiated by Murray & Roberts 29 years ago in recognition of the special qualities of Jack Cheetham, a former director of the company and the inspirational captain of the South African cricket team in the 1950s who was able to instil in young people the belief that they could win. The award targets sports development projects, focusing on individuals or teams that have the potential to be champions.

The Murray & Roberts Letsema Award was initiated in 2009 following the outstanding performance of athlete Hilton Langenhoven who captured the attention of the world at the 2008 Paralympics in Athens. The award recognises sports development projects for people with disabilities.

When word got around, more than 30 boys from the township pitched in to help restore a derelict cricket field on nearby municipal land. Then, with nothing more than his own kit, Ross began coaching the boys. Their enthusiasm, commitment and raw talent was immediately evident and, within a few months an under-14 Tiger Titans team was selected to test its skills against the more privileged St Andrews College, which Ross attends. The Tiger Titans reached a winning target of 154, with seven wickets in hand, then Ross, who played for the St Andrews side, was bowled out for a duck – and a star team was born.

The Tiger Titans Club has unleashed a passion for cricket with significant potential that has materialised into a squad of more than 50 young boys between the ages of nine and 19 who make up three almost unbeatable teams. Over the past two years, the club has maintained a winning record of over 80% against private and public schools in the province and further afield, and was recently invited to join the Grahamstown Cricket League. One of the players was selected to play Eastern Province provincial cricket this year and 35 of the players are enrolled in the President’s Award Program, which enables them to effect transformation in their community.

Ross, now 17 years old, works tirelessly to develop the club and has demonstrated leadership qualities beyond his years, mobilising the support of the local community, the municipality, Eastern Province Cricket, the Department of Sport, local schools and his family to ensure the sustainability of the Tiger Titans. He has received a number of awards in South Africa and abroad in recognition of his work and was the runner-up of the 2008 Jack Cheetham Award. In 2009, Ross was invited by HRH Prince Phillip to be the keynote speaker at a gala dinner at Lords Cricket Ground, and this year he was recognised by the Peter Cruddas Foundation as one of ten International Social Innovators.

A partnership with talented 22-year-old Port Alfred coach, Mduduzi Mkalipi, and community elder, Gladman Xali, has been instrumental in the success of the club. The players practice up to four times a week and play matches on Saturdays, and older players pass on their skills to newcomers. During the winter off-season, fitness training continues and the Tiger Titans transform into the Scorpions Soccer Club.

With additional funding, the club will be able to extend its reach to many more children in the Bathurst community and it will take one step closer to fulfilling Ross’s ultimate dream of producing South Africa’s next Makhaya Ntini.

Boccia for the Severely Physically Disabled

Boccia is a form of indoor bowls for people with severe disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. This highly technical game is played competitively in 52 countries and is one of only two sports for the severely disabled in the Paralympics.

When Ruon van Zyl, a victim of the 1950s polio epidemic, was introduced to the game in England, he immediately recognised its value for severely disabled children in South African schools, who are marginalised by their disability and excluded from sporting activity. Having introduced boccia to schools for disabled children in KwaZulu-Natal, Ruon embarked on a road trip across rural and urban South Africa to broaden his marketing of the benefits of the game to people with disabilities. Ruon’s work was recognised in 2008 when Boccia for the Severely Physically Disabled was selected as a beneficiary of the Letsema Sizwe Trust. 

In 2003, the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled accepted boccia as a paralympic sport with five provinces and 23 athletes competing. Today, more than 500 disabled South Africans have found a meaningful pursuit in boccia which has become the fastest growing game for sports people with disabilities. It is also proving to be a valuable tool in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities.

Two young South Africa boccia players were selected to participate in the 2006 World Boccia Championships in Brazil and the 2007 Boccia World Cup in Canada. In 2010, two South African athletes attended the Boccia World Championships in Portugal. Participation in international events is vital in order to qualify for the Paralympics and these athletes gained valuable ranking points, and shared their experiences with other athletes. A Boccia Leadership Course trains players to be technical officials and forms part of a talent identification strategy to find players with the potential to join a high performance elite athlete squad which will represent South Africa at international competitions and seek qualification for the 2016 Paralympics.


Letsema Winners   Joburg City Hall
Winners of the Letsema Award with Hilton Langenhoven (centre)   Johannesburg City Hall, the venue for the awards ceremony