South African Embassy, in collaboration with Kuwait Cricket, the apex body of cricket in Kuwait, jointly hosted the first Nelson Mandela Cricket Cup 2014 at the lush green Sulaibiya cricket ground on 29 November, 2014. H.E. Mr. Delarey Van Tonder, the Ambassador of South Africa to Kuwait stated that the Nelson Mandela Cup was aimed at honoring the positive International legacy of Nelson Mandela and also in support of South Africa’s International program in celebrating the country’s twenty years of freedom & democracy. The Ambassador added that hosting the Nelson Mandela cup was also to pay tribute to His Highness, The Amir of the State of Kuwait for being recognized as a global humanitarian Leader by United Nations.
On a wonderful day when sun shined at the green grassed turf wicket, ten Cricket teams consisting of 16 year old players and younger, participated in the tournament, with matches commencing from 07:00 hours in the morning and the final match being played at 16:30 hours, followed by the Award ceremony. All-rounder XI faced DPS Titans in the opening match of the day and teams to the likes of DPS Warriors, Gladiators, Cricket Coaching club, Kuwait Pakistan XI, Bosco Blasters, Bhavan’s XI, Future Star & an All Women’s team participated in the 7 A side tournament which was played in the true spirit of the game and in a highly competitive manner.
The game was designed in such a fashion that the first round winners were clubbed to play each other to decide the team for the final and losing teams to play against each other to decide for the rankings. In an exciting semifinal played between DPS Titans & Gladiators, the match went to the last ball of the match where Gladiators snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to meet Future Stars, in the other semifinal won a comfortable victory against Cricket Coaching club to reach the final.
In the final, Future Star XI batting first scored 59 runs as Mustaq (20 runs) & Hamoud (16 runs) played stellar roles to guide them to a decent total. Aamir, Pawan & Sameer bowled well for Gladiators. Chasing almost 12 runs an over, Gladiators could mustered 39 runs on board as Hamoud, Haseeb & Sadiq bowled an excellent spell which enabled Future Stars to win the first ever Nelson Mandela Cup with a handsome 20 runs victory.
H. E. Mr. Delarey Van Tonder, Ambassador of South Africa to Kuwait & Ms. Sebel Van Tonder presented the Winner & Runner up rolling trophies to the captains of Future Star & Gladiators XI captains respectively. The Burgan Bank sponsored individual plaques for 7 disciplines were presented to the following players:
Best Player of the tournament : Pawan of Gladiators
Best Batsman of the tournament : Bilal Taher (Future Star)
Best Bowler of the tournament : Hamoud Amanulla (Future Star)
Player of the final : Mustaq (Future Star)
Best Wicket Keeper of tournament : Vineeth Baburaj ( Bhavan’s School)
Best Fielder of the tournament : Kalaivani Santhosh Kumar (All Women’s team)
Most promising player of the tournament : Mariyam Omar (All Women’s team)
The full day event was witnessed by a large crowd of cricket lovers, parents, coaches and members of South African Embassy in Kuwait as well as Mr. Asad Baig, Director General and Council members of Kuwait Cricket. Mughal Mahal, the leading restaurant chain had provided mouthwatering lunch and Al-Manshar Rotana had supplied ample breakfast packets for children. Each participating teams were given individual medals & gift bags sponsored by South African Embassy and other sponsors to the likes of Pro Sports, Ethihad Airways & Bugan Bank. The event was very well supported by sponsors Golden International Logistics & Times Magazine who provided T-Shirts & Caps & Sultan Center who had distributed gift coupons to participants. Bon Voyage Travel & Tourism came up with an excellent idea of providing colored uniforms and gift coupons to both the finalists and great support from Agility, Kaaval Security systems, IDS, International Organization for Migration and UNHCR added color to this wonderful and exciting full day event for junior cricketers in Kuwait. There were also exhibition booths where spectators and visitors obtained information on products and services from different companies that exhibited at the event.
The South African stand was decorated in an attractive manner, displaying banners promoting South African tourism, Trade & Investment promotional material, handicrafts. South African juices (Ceres & Dewlands) were served to the players and people who visited the South African stand so that they could taste the quality of some of the South African juices.
The Nelson Mandela Cricket Tournament helped to create awareness on the significance of the values that Nelson Mandela represents and the power of sports in bringing people from different nationalities and background together. The event also helped to showcase South Africa as a sporting nation and a desirable tourism, trade and investment destination.
The Mission has boosted relations between South Africa and different role-players in Kuwait through this event. The Mission also hopes to make the Nelson Mandela Cricket Tournament an annual event. The initiative also received extensive local media coverage.