The annual Ngumbela cricket tournament has been hailed for development of rural Cricket in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape.

This year, the tournament is celebrating 30 years of existence. It started in 1989 with four teams as an initiative to curb substance abuse among the youth of Alice, Middledrift and Fort Beaufort.

Over the years, it has produced notable talent such as Jerry Ngqolo (SA under 19), Mthwekhaya Nabe (Cape Cobras), Mfuneko Ngam and Makhaya Ntini.

The tournament brings joy to the locals and rural youth in Fort Beaufort and surrounding areas. However, the lack of infrastructure is still a major stumbling block for youth reaching the national club level.

Founder of the tournament, Mthetheleli Ngumbela, says he wants the tournament to grow bigger. “I have been begging government for many years then I decided to it on my own because if I am going to wait for government I will be wasting my time but at the present moment they started to do something I feel very proud though and government they promising.”

The tournament has attracted sports gurus, including Cricket South Africa. Member of Cricket South Africa, Edward Khoza, says they want to develop the infrastructure in the stadium.

“This place where we are, Ngumbela, has been developed by us and it’s actually a hub. That’s where we do development and we have donated a roller to improve the park because our long-term strategy is to have one of the important games played here so that people can be exposed to such facilities in rural areas 29.”

One of the players, Sivuyile Duda, says the tournament has helped young players realise their dreams.

“All those people have come on board now they are starting and there are boys who got scholarships so it’s been amazing thanks to Mr Ngumbela he has been doing for us throughout so we thank him by all means.”

The provincial government has partnered with Ngumbela for the first time this year and committed millions to improving sporting infrastructure in rural areas. I am Makhaya Komisa , in  Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape.