Experienced coach Garth Anderson has a burning ambition to guide the Madibaz to the upper echelons of university cricket after being appointed as the new Nelson Mandela University mentor.
The journey to Gqeberha completes a round trip back to his roots for the 40-year-old former player, who represented the then-UPE first team from 2001 to 2004.
Now Anderson, who started his latest innings on Monday, is ready to plough expertise garnered from two decades of coaching back into the Madibaz system.
His modus operandi, said the alumnus, was to create an environment where young cricketers could grow to reach their full potential.
“Madibaz Cricket has always created a pathway to the professional ranks. I will strive to continue the legacy of producing cricketers and well-rounded individuals,” Anderson, who took over from Lefa Mosena, said.
His philosophy is to create an environment in which players can execute their skills consistently.
“Also, as we are dealing with student-athletes, there is a focus on assisting them to manage their academic and sporting commitments correctly, which is important for their overall wellbeing.”
One of the objectives that the Cricket South Africa Level 3 coach has is assisting players to transition from schoolboy to senior level.
“I want to make sure that the players who come into our system understand their game and their roles in the team,” Anderson said.
“Ultimately, I want Madibaz Cricket to be competitive at the USSA and national levels and I’m excited to walk this journey with the club.”
A positive approach to training and a good work ethic will see individuals improve, which will take care of the results.
“For me, it is so exciting to have a chance to work with some of our promising cricketers. It is rewarding to see young players grow and excel.”
A key factor in elevating the Madibaz, Anderson felt, was to ensure playing personnel reflected the region’s talent, and that there was a symbiotic relationship with the Warriors aimed at player retention through the university’s high-performance structures.
“The one aspect I think we need to concentrate on to a greater degree is the recruitment of local talent,” he said.
“We must attract and retain the best schoolboy cricketers in the province, because we have the facilities and resources that will enable them to develop their sporting and academic careers.”
Between playing and coaching the game, Anderson has travelled the world since walking onto the field for the first time as a 12-year-old.
He turned out for several Eastern Province age-group teams before playing for the university. However, he realised his skills were suited to the coaching environment rather than the cricket field.
As a student, he started coaching to earn extra cash and that developed his passion for mentoring.
“I realised that I was not going to make it as a professional cricketer and started completing my coaching qualifications.”
And so a chain of events was set in motion which took the psychology graduate, who also sports a FIFA/CIES post-graduate certificate in sport management through Mandela University, to various destinations to ply his trade.
A stint in New Zealand, where he coached at the Northland Cricket Association in 2009/10, was sandwiched by periods as the Madibaz Super League coach, after which he spent several seasons as the cricket professional at Queen’s College in Komani.
He returned to his cricketing roots after working for the Mpumalanga Cricket Union, firstly as the senior provincial head coach in 2017 followed by his appointment as cricket services manager a year later.
Based in Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) during this time, he admitted that there had always been a hankering to return home.
“I was in the market to return to Gqeberha as my family had already moved back when I received a call from Madibaz Cricket manager Sipho Sibande and, as they say, the rest is history.”
Sibande was convinced that Anderson’s previous experience with the club would stand him and the players in good stead.
“He understands the club culture,” Sibande said.
“That factor, along with his desire to return to Gqeberha, made it a perfect fit for us. We wish him well in his journey.”
Besides doing well in the local leagues, Sibande said the bigger mission was to retain top-eight status at the USSA tournament in Cape Town in December.