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In praise of the JP21 project

Ask any of his friends or teammates and they will tell you a slightly different version of the same theme – JP Duminy is different from your average 32-year-old and very different to your average professional cricketer.

There is a sincerity about the man which is unusual. There is a desire to learn about things and improve his understanding of people and the world which is rare, and there is a desire to make a difference to people’s lives which is rarer still. Desire is one thing – actually making it happen is another.

Two-and-a-half years ago Duminy was finally able to scratch the itch that had been bothering him for years, with the launch of the JP21 Project, which works through cricket to uplift underprivileged communities in the Western Cape, but particularly around the Mitchell’s Plain and Strandfontein areas.

Duminy has learned his most valuable life lessons during a career that has consumed his entire adult life so far. His passion for fair competition was behind his desire to start a league for the schools who did not even play competitive cricket. Before that could happen he needed to have players and coaches – so his team started coaching courses for both players and teachers.

They provide kit and equipment, revitalize and repair the facilities that have become run down, and even run a holiday programme for the kids who may otherwise roam the streets with little positive to do.

From just a handful of schools at the beginning of the programme, the number has now swelled to over 30, involving over 450 children. The project manager, ever-smiling despite the workload, is Jamaine Cloete and he has reason to be proud. His whole team do – so here they are: Mark Willie, Natheer Wagner, Amien Kader and, of course, JP.

Fundraising takes up a huge amount of time and it was at the Project Golf Day that Cloete explained his frustration: “JP has built up strong and loyal relationships with all of his sponsors over the years and they have been fantastic in supporting the JP21 Project. Many individuals, too, have seen the work we are doing, and want to do, and they have made generous donations. But it would be nice if the government could see what we have achieved. We could make a world of difference to many kids’ lives with some Lotto funding, for example,” Cloete says.

Each time I hear someone question Duminy’s place in the Proteas XI I am comforted by the fact that, when the time comes for him to leave for good, the real world will be better for his place in it.

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