Cricket coursing through the Gantsho veins
“All us Gantshos do every day is talk cricket. In the living room, in the kitchen, in the garden … cricket, cricket, cricket!”
Kaiser Gantsho, by his own admission, “loves and lives cricket”. It’s been a part of his surroundings for all his life and, thanks to Veterans Cricket, it is being extended for a lot longer than he anticipated.
‘KGee’ comes from the Pirie Mission village just outside King William’s Town. His grandfather, Siphango Gantsho, was a farmer in the region and also a cricket lover.
In an attempt to lure the villagers back from the mines in Johannesburg during the holidays, he set up a cricket tournament in 1941 which he named Amacala Egusha, which translates to ‘Side of the Sheep’. The idea was that the team who wins the tournament, which runs from December 26-31, would win one side of the sheep, while the other side was cooked and served to the supporters.
“When I was a young boy, my father would never allow me to join the others playing or to even go watch,” Gantsho says. “Yet when he came home, before supper, he would ask me how the game went, and I’m thinking to myself ‘You didn’t allow me to go watch or play!’.”
That torment finally ended when Gantsho was 14, and his father allowed him to play his first tournament in the Zeleni Location. It was 1985, and in the last game he was carried off the field by his teammates after a Man of the Match performance which handed them the tournament win. It proved to be an enduring love affair…
His studies took him to Port Elizabeth where he played for United Brothers. Gantsho recalls: “When we played our first game in the fourth league we only had eight players, but we still won! The next game we played, the captain and coach struggled to decide on a squad because we had so many players. More and more players were inspired to join and we ended up winning promotion that season.”
Gantsho, a left-arm seamer and left-hand batsman, helped United Brothers up to the second division before he returned to Border after his studies, turning out for Willows, Police Club and Old Boys.
After more than 20 years of club cricket he eventually hung up his boots, but the establishment of the Veterans League changed his life forever.
“When the Veterans League was formed my younger brother, TeeGee, told me, ‘I know you’re old, big brother, but there is a league which we are starting for the veterans, can you come and join the team?’
“I said, ‘My brother, you know I live cricket, I love cricket, it is the only sport where you will always find me on the field of play’. So I joined the league and started playing, got selected for Border Veterans, went to the Interprovincial Tournament and got selected for the Proteas.
“It is a dream of each and everyone to play for his country, representing any sport. It was always a dream of mine, but the odds were always against me. Without the Veterans League, I would never have thought that, given my age, coming from a disadvantaged background, and with no formal coaching, I would one day wear the Green & Gold.”
Gantsho was so excited by his selection that he returned to his village, Pirie Mission, to show off his South African shirt in the hope of inspiring more cricketers in his community.
“I went back and got them to autograph the shirt so that they are behind me and the team and supporting us all the way,” he says. “Also, they must look at me as a veteran, at my age, and realise that it is never too late for anyone. Age is just a number. That is the message I wanted to give to my village.”
Gantsho is also hoping his selection will encourage more people to look at the region for cricket talent. After all, this is a part of the country that produced three South African fast bowlers in Makhaya Ntini, Mfuneko Ngam and Monde Zondeki – all three played for the Zondeki Cricket Union in Amacala Egusha.
“I never played professional; I only played for Amacala Egusha,” KGee continues. “It is easy to go there and think they are disadvantaged, but what you will find there are raw diamonds, and it is easy to manufacture that into what you want it to become.
“I can mention one gentleman by the name of Mfuneko Ngam. He was only spotted when playing for Pirie Champions Cricket Club during that December tournament. He is a product of Amacala Egusha!
“I strongly believe we should look at Pirie Mission and plough our experience back there, and maybe then we can find the next national team player. There is so much talent there!”
About Evergreen Lifestyle
Established in 2008, Evergreen Lifestyle is South Africa’s premium retirement brand with seven operating villages in the Western Cape and Gauteng, and a further six in the pipeline. The business began with a vision to change the retirement landscape in South Africa, offering a partnership for life based on five key pillars: physical security, financial peace of mind, continuous care, a sense of community and exceptional hospitality.
You’ll find Evergreen’s award-winning retirement villages in the most beautiful parts of the country, at the end of sun-dappled country lanes, perched on majestic mountain slopes, and within walking distance of our beaches, rivers, and wetlands. And you’ll find vibrant fun-loving communities enjoying the finer things in life – like good food, great company, lasting friendships, and a sense of belonging that is enabled by the resort style facilities and amenities on offer.