As South Africa celebrated Heritage Month (September), three University of Johannesburg (UJ) Cricket Club players celebrated their selection to join Cricket South Africa’s national academy. Daniel van der Merwe, Emanuel Motswiri, and Levert Manje recently joined the national academy in a three-year cycle ending in 2024.
Although the cycle does not apply to some players due to not having signed contracts yet, it is an opportunity for the UJ trio to showcase their talents and grow into the main national team, the Proteas, in the future. Their selection to join the national academy comes a few months after the UJ Cricket Club received the CGL Lions Blue Flag Status. Such an accolade is awarded to cricket clubs that are recognised for advancing the objectives and aims of the Presidential Plan.
Motswiri is a UJ student and a cricket player enrolled for a national diploma in Transportation Management. He is an all-rounder who started playing cricket at the age of 7. He started playing for UJ in 2019. In addition to his academic plans, Motswiri plays cricket to express himself and make friends on and off the field.
“Like any other cricketer, I wish to play for my country and also to play cricket all over the world. My selection to be in the SA National Academy means a lot to me. I have made many sacrifices to get to where I am and I will continue to do so in order to move up in my career,” says Motswiri.
According to him, being selected to join the SA national academy brings positive exposure for a cricketer and a chance to play at a higher level. This, he says, helps players to develop their skills to become the best in the country or even in the world.
Motswiri has cast his eyes on the future. “Sport is my priority, but it’s always good to have some sort of high level of education behind my name for later on in life. I would like to see myself playing for South Africa in world competitions,” he says.
Among his highest achievements, Motswiri has played in SA colts in 2017 and 2018, Junior franchise (Cubs week) in 2017, 2018, and 2019, Lions Academy, and Lions senior provincial men.
The same goes for van der Merwe. He also started playing cricket at the age of 7. Now a UJ Education Psychology student and cricket player, van der Merwe started playing for UJ in 2021 as a bowling all-rounder who opens the bowling and bats 7/8.
Van der Merwe’s passion for cricket is palpable. “I love the grind and the tough days on the field when the sun is beating down on us and my captains call me to bowl the 40th over because the team needs a wicket. Cricket is a fun sport,” he says.
Hi plans in the academy include emerging as one of the best players that can represent South Africa at the highest level. “I’m very pleased with making the camp, this is a step in the right direction. It is part of the bigger picture, so I’m taking it all as it comes,” explains van der Merwe.
He adds, “It’s a great opportunity for me to gain experience and play at a higher level compared to how I’m used to playing. Playing in the national academy puts any player in the right spot for national selectors and other opportunities,” says van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe plans to secure a franchise contract and build up his career from there. He also wishes to study further after completing his first qualification at UJ.
Some of van der Merwe’s achievements in the past include:
Junior franchise week (cubs 2019), SA tap u19, Titans Academy contract since 2019, and Northerns Under17 and Under19.