The initiative is the brainchild of Gary Kirsten and Andrew Russell, owner of Cape Africa Tours. Russell has been organising inbound sports tours to South Africa since January 2000 and is a registered member of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA). Kirsten launched his cricket academy in Cape Town and Durban and with his enormous profile in world cricket; there was immediate interest from both domestic and overseas players and teams.
The cricket academy has witnessed an encouraging response from the Indian market as well with 24 budding professionals already having visited the academy in October 2013. Many more groups from India are soon expected to train at the academy until February 2015.
Gary Kirsten, said, "Teams want to know they are travelling with a reputable, experienced tour operator and with fourteen years of experience in the industry, and having handled countless inbound tours catering for all ages and abilities, Cape Africa Tours was the natural choice for us to partner with. We are excited about affording local players the opportunity to compete against talented international players and of course, having the opportunity to showcase South Africa's facilities and cricket talent to the rest of the world."
In the attempt to further popularise the Academy among the target audience, plans are on for an under 15 and 18 T20 festival for Cape Town in December 2015 and an under- 13 and 18 festival in February 2016. This would allow participants and cricket enthusiasts enough time to plan their trip and book tickets well in advance.
According to Russell, Gary is one of South Africa and the worlds cricketing icons not only as a player who represented his country in 100 Tests and 185 One Day Internationals, but also as the World Cup winning coach of India in April 2011 and more recently as coach of the Proteas and the Delhi Daredevils. His Academy is now his passion and the place where he offers hands-on coaching for individuals and teams. This is not just another case of an International player lending his name to a business venture; Gary is heavily involved on a daily basis with his Academy and loves nothing more than being in the nets with aspiring young cricketers. My experience dealing with touring teams offers Gary the opportunity to focus on the coaching aspects and for us to handle all the travel and tour details.
Talking about his plans for the India market Russell said, Indians are extremely passionate about cricket and their love and admiration for Gary. To promote our new venture, we will be marketing the same during IPL 2015 and with the Proteas tour to India in October/ November 2015 we have another opportunity to leverage. We know that it is not going to happen overnight, participating at the South African Tourisms annual roadshow in February will be our first step towards marketing the tour division in India but we are in here for the long-haul; we see this as a five day game, not a T20. We expect huge demand from the Indian market in the times to come.