“When I accepted the role of President of the Central Gauteng Lions in May 2020, my appointment was reported as a development of ‘historical significance’ in the press, as I was one of only two women, and the first in Gauteng, to be named as the President of a province or cricket affiliate in South Africa. I was honoured to accept the role and remain excited about the positive impact I intend to make.
Cricket has always been in my blood. I grew up in a cricket mad family and my three sons played the game at a schools level, franchise level and national level. I have also been involved in cricket through our business for nearly forty years, part of which entailed looking after our sponsored players. I have been associated with the Old Edwardian Club and, prior to my appointment as President, I served on the CGL Board. Most recently, for a period of three years, I was Vice President to Jack Madiseng.
In my role as President, my high-level objectives centre on transformation. I am motivated to help transform cricket at all levels, whether it be women and girls cricket by ensuring they receive equal opportunities, or ensuring a fair playing field for disabled cricketers, who have often overcome more than we can imagine.
Growing the game in underprivileged areas is a key focus area, as I recognise the ability of sports to transform lives and know that this is key to also ensuring a sustainable pipeline of talent for CGL.
My first full year as President came at a time of great global turmoil as the sporting world came to a standstill as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. An eerie silence descended over the DP World Wanderers Stadium; in all my years in cricket, this is something I could never have imagined. However, in true Central Gauteng Lions style, our teams fought hard to survive the challenges thrown at them and came out victorious as cricket resumed play.
Unfortunately we were not able to shrug off the financial strain the pandemic placed on the CGL and, as a result, we had no option but to retrench some of our staff, this decision was not taken lightly. I am respectful of the incredibly difficult decisions our executive team faced in the day-today operations of the organisation as they worked hard to keep their teams and the organisation afloat. We applied for TERS payments for our staff and all unnecessary expenses were put on hold to ensure our sustainability. Initially we had no line of sight as to whether matches would resume, yet we had to assume that cricket, in some format, would be played at the DP World Wanderers Stadium. This meant we had to incur costs, whilst facing the prospect of no guaranteed income.
At last, cricket could resume
We were immensely grateful when CSA paved the way for cricket to resume behind closed doors. The resumption of international cricket was important, not only from a revenue perspective, but it also helped lift the spirits of all our players and staff knowing that the game they love could once again resume.
Our staff also did an amazing job to get club cricket played again, and to make sure that all protocols were in place at the clubs to make this happen. Whilst there were no spectators allowed (much to the disappointment of the parents) we were delighted that the teams were able to play again.
Transforming the stadium
One of the important lessons we learnt in this period is that we cannot predict the future and we must be prepared for all eventualities. In light of this, both the CEO and the Board continued to focus our efforts on transforming the DP World Wanderers Stadium into a multi-purpose venue, whilst keeping its identity as a world-class cricket stadium. Our goal is to ensure that we build a financially sustainable company by ensuring multiple revenue streams.
Board and governance
I continue to focus my efforts on ensuring good governance and operational excellence in everything that we do. A new Board of Directors was appointed on 9 May 2020, however, since then we had three independent and two non independent directors resign. We are immensely pleased that we were able to replace them with equally excellent candidates. As I mentioned earlier, transformation is a key focus of our Board and during the year we established the Transformation sub-committee to ensure that robust engagement was acted on the key transformation points. This enabled us to, in May 2021, formalise a Transformation Charter as a working document to move forward with.
Delivering on our mandate
Developing quality winning teams is a key strategic objective of the CGL and I believe we continue to deliver on this strategic imperative. I was particularly impressed with the performance of the Lions and CGL Strikers teams this season, given the restrictions under which they played. The DP World Lions won the Betway T20 Challenge and were crowned joint winners of the Momentum One Day Cup. I am also very proud that two of our Senior Women Provincial Team members were selected for the Momentum Proteas. This is the first time ever that women have been given national contracts and this is a step in the right direction for equality in the sport.
In the year ahead we will continue to focus our efforts on ensuring we have the foundations set for a stronger future. In this regard, at a Board level we will continue to refine our Transformation Charter, this is something I am particularly passionate about and believe is imperative to our long-term sustainability. We will be looking at our MOI and governance issues.
My appreciation goes to the CGL Board for their continued support during the difficult period, and for their backing of the CGL stance in relation to the CSA MOI. Our on-field success is only achieved with the support of a formidable off-field force ranging from ground staff to office staff, from professional to pipeline, a tremendous collective effort from all this past year.
To Jono Leaf-Wright, our CEO, who has done an incredible job, his enthusiasm and passion helps to keep us all motivated.
To our principle sponsor Imperial Logistics, and to all our other sponsors that have backed us, we appreciate all that you have done for CGL. Thank you for your continued support.
Lions Cricket President