Cricket: Raisibe Ntozakhe – Proteas Women’s Player
The recent ICC Women’s World Cup in England brought back the memories for a 20-year-old Raisibe Ntozakhe who remembered her days a KFC Mini-Cricket kid, when she saw the boys and girls who were the flag-bearers – something she used to do in her younger days.
The inspiration of being involved in the KFC T20 Internationals and the CSA T20 Challenge matches is something Raisibe still hold close to her heart and hopes that every child is encouraged by this experience.
When Raisibe was selected for South Africa it was the realisation of a dream that began with playing KFC Mini-cricket at the school in Alexandra township and, later, hardball cricket in an all-boys team.
“I became fascinated with the game when I was just 6-years old, “explains Raisibe. “I saw some boys playing Mini-Cricket and wanted to join them however, there were no other female players in the school and I was the only girl in the team. Luckily, the boys were in my class and they were my friends so they accepted me,” she adds.
While netball was the sport of choice for the girls at her school, Raisibe was drawn to playing cricket.
“I quickly grew to love the game, and I would not let anyone break me down and try to stop me from doing what I loved,” notes the 20-year-old.
Initially, Raisibe started out as a medium pace bowler, but later she changed to become a spin bowler when she reached the age of 9. This transition became the catalyst for her being selected the Gauteng under-13 Women’s cricket side. Raisibe realised that she was a better spin bowler than medium pace bowler.
After moving on from KFC Mini-Cricket she continued playing hard ball cricket with the boys, and by this stage she was already playing Gauteng u-16 and u-19 Women’s cricket. Raisibe was encouraged to continue playing cricket by coach Eugene Peterson even though that meant she had to play cricket with the boys.
To be where she is now Raisibe has had to put in a lot of hard work and dedication into her game.
“I didn’t think that this was going to be my breakthrough year. I had always hoped that I would make the Proteas team, but I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly” she points out, highlighting on the fact that hard work and determination will take you far but patience is key in grounding yourself.
The day Raisibe was selected for the Proteas Women’s team was a highly emotional one for both herself and her grandmother who cried because she was extremely proud of her granddaughter’s achievement.
Raisibe is currently studying a sports administration and coaching course and next year she plans on studying Biokinetics.
She is still involved in coaching at Alex where she coaches under-13 hard-ball cricket.
“I hope that in 10 years’ time I’ll still be in the Proteas team, talking about the little kids that I’ve inspired to play cricket,” she adds.
In August, this year Raisibe attended a Gauteng KFC Mini-Cricket seminar where she met up with a lot of the teachers that coached her at school, who are are still coaching kids in Alex and looking out talent.
“It’s humbling to see the people that got me to ply and love the game still working hard in the programme. “I can’t wait to see the next Raisibe Ntozakhe coming from Alexandra. Phetheni Vezi, a teacher at Skeen Primary School, has played a fundamental part in helping to discover Raisibe’s talent. Vezi was one of Raisibe’s early KFC Mini-Cricket coaches, and coached her since she was 6-years-old.
“When I first saw her, I initially thought she was a boy,” laughs Phetheni saying that she was playing in a team of boys and she was playing better cricket than most of them.
“Upon realising that she was a girl I got her involved in the Gauteng under-13 girls team, even though she was still playing Mini-Cricket at that stage. It was already clear that she was something special.
“I’m so excited that Raisibe has made the Proteas women’s team and very proud of her, concludes Vezi