Central Gauteng Lions become first provincial side in South Africa to announce professional contracts for women

Central Gauteng Lions management and players © Cricket South Africa

The Central Gauteng Lions (CGL) is set to become the first women’s side in South Africa’s provincial league to announce professional contracts for domestic players in the senior side, CGL Cricket announced on Tuesday (November 3).

Jono Leaf-Wright, CEO of CGL, said they want to create a deserving platform and high-performing space for the women’s cricketers.

“We want to place women’s sport on the platform they deserve and create a high-performance space for them as well, because we know we have a championship side,” Left-Wright said announcing the women’s team contracts.

“Imperial really see the value in our women and also want to take women’s sport to the next level. We are very thankful for their investment, which means for the first time in our history, we can give our women’s team contracts, which means the world to us. As the Union, we are truly honoured for the extended the partnership that will go towards the much-needed women pipeline structures.”

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Lions skipper Yolani Fourie welcomed the move calling it a step in the right direction and said it will serve as a motivation for those playing domestic cricket.

“It’s brilliant to now get some reward for playing and it’s a definite step in the right direction,” Fourie was quoted as saying by The Citizen.

31-year-old Fourie made her debut for South Africa in 2014 and has played 26 international matches across formats. She has been playing domestic cricket since 2008 and talked about how having professional contracts in the provincial level will help the cricketers focus on their game.

“I started playing provincial cricket in 2008 and I’ve been with the Lions for the last seven years and it is so motivating to think that I’m going to get my first actual contract. The national team gives out 14 contracts and they are professional, but the next step is to do that at provincial level,” Fourie added.

“We just want to be able to focus on our cricket and this shows that there is hope for the youngsters; a lot more of them will stick to playing cricket because they can see a future career in it for themselves.”

Raisibe Ntozakhe, who has played 29 internationals for South Africa, said professional contracts will help bridge the gap between provincial and international cricket and will create opportunities for more players.

“This will raise a huge bar. We do have quality now, but to bring something into it, it will create awareness that you can make a career out of it,” Ntozakhe was quoted as saying to Daily Maverick. “It’ll create a huge opportunity to create more professional players and a lot of professionalism within the provincial structure, and not have a huge gap in terms of provincial cricket and the national team.”

Ntozakhe, who currently also serves as a cricket coach at Queens High School in Johannesburg, also talked about the need to have proper structure in school cricket to have more young players coming through the system.

“I’d like to see more girls’ schools allowing girls to play cricket. Because it’s not many schools that have a main focus on cricket, like Queens does. If that could happen, and also to have more younger players coming into school,” she concluded.

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