Behind every successful sports team, there is a strong woman. The AssupolTuks Cricket team’s on-field performances prove it.
For the past eight years as the club’s cricket manager, Blanche Conradie is the one who is making sure that everything keeps going right.
She seems to be succeeding. Tuks established itself as one of South Africa’s top club teams. They won every tournament of significance more than once. The team has even held its own internationally. One of last year’s highlights was winning the Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament.
Conradie will never take credit for any on-field heroics. She considers herself to be behind the scenes. During tournaments, she is usually the one doing the ‘little things’. Typically it means doing ‘stuff’ that tends to go unnoticed. For example, rushing off to get a player’s mobile phone repaired or to collect something that has been forgotten in a hotel room.
The challenge she enjoys most as a manager is to have a clear goal of growth and profitability to make sure the club is staying on course to achieve its goals. A healthy balance sheet is a battle half won.
To her, a job well done is when the coaches and players can focus on only one thing. That is being at their best when playing.
Although Conradie never really got to play the game, cricket has been part of her life from when she can remember. As a little girl, some of her most special memories were listening to her grandad talking about the heroics of South Africa’s cricket legends at the Wanderers. He used to be the chairman of Waterval Boven‘s Cricket Club.
When she was eight years old, Conradie got her first taste of what international cricket is about when as a family they went to watch the Proteas play the West Indies at SuperSport Park. A highlight was seeing Brian Lara scoring fifty runs. She was intrigued from the start by the game.
“For me, cricket will never only be about runs, wickets and catches. There is more to the game. You get to realise that when you are in the dressing room with the players and coaches. There are so much planning and strategy at play. Still, there are never any guarantees. Any outcome can change with one ball. That is what makes cricket exciting.”
Eight years ago, when Conradie started work at AssupolTuks Cricket, it was sort of a case of being a woman in a man’s world.
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“I was never disrespected. It was more a scenario of not being 100% trusted when I offered some ideas. It might have been because I was young, a woman as well as someone who has never played the game. The only option was to put my head down to get the job done.
“Perceptions start to change when I got selected to serve on the University Sports South Africa Cricket committee (USSA). First as the secretary and now as vice-chairlady.”
On being asked why Tuks continue to dominate during local tournaments Conradie’s immediate response was: “We are a family. For us, it will never be about individuals. It is always a scenario of one for all and all for one. When the team wins, we all win.”
In the time she had been involved with the club, she considers her Tuks ‘Dream Team’ to be: Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi (captain), Jiveshen Pillay, Neil Brand, *Wandile Makwetu, Heinrich Klaasen (wicketkeeper), Thomas Kaber, Ruan de Swardt, Ruben Trumpelmann, Migael Pretorius, Lungi Ngidi.
*did not play for Tuks in Varsity Cricket
Article courtesy Wilhelm de Swardt/TuksSport Media