Former provincial player Deon Smith is determined to make an impact in his new role as Mecer NMMU-Madibaz club coach, beginning with the Varsity Cricket tournament at the end of the month.
The 48-year-old Smith, who played cricket for Boland and South Western Districts in the early 1990s, took up his position as club coach in Port Elizabeth this week and is looking forward to working with his new charges.
A man with a passion for cricket who has been involved in the game for most of his life, Smith wants to continue the development of Madibaz players.
“I believe if you have the knowledge you must pass it on to those who do not,” said Smith, who takes a holistic view of his role. “I want to create an environment that encourages players to learn and develop both on and off the playing field.”
The new mentor left no doubt that ensuring the NMMU teams were successful would be a priority in his planning.
“We want to be successful in the league and qualify for the club champs in April,” he said.
“The club structure is vibrant and inclusive, and I can see they are a close family. There is a good mix of youth and senior players with no fear of failure.
“I also think the guys are keen to rewrite history as the last time they won a major tournament was in 2012. I have had a handful of sessions with the players and I can already see the hunger for success is there.”
While the premier league resumes this month, Smith will be looking ahead to the Varsity Cricket tournament in Potchefstroom starting on January 30.
The Madibaz will be among eight teams competing for the title in the Twenty20 format, with the final scheduled for February 4.
Born in Stellenbosch, Smith went to Cloetesville Primary and Cloetesville Senior Secondary in the town. After playing cricket at a junior provincial level, he went on to represent Boland and SWD, playing 11 first-class matches as a fast bowler from 1990 to 1994.
He turned to coaching after his playing career and was involved with the HHeatherbank Cricket Club in PE when he was approached by Madibaz cricket manager Sipho Sibande about the NMMU job.
“Mr Sibande saw me at Heatherbank having one-on-one sessions with two club players,” said Smith. “He knew me from my SWD days when my senior provincial team played two warm-up games against the Madibaz in preparation for the 2015 Africa T20 Cup.
“We had two meetings before I decided to accept the offer and started on Monday.”
Smith thanked Heatherbank for allowing him the opportunity to further is coaching career.
“I still want to coach at provincial level and I think NMMU is the perfect situation to develop my coaching career,” he said.