One of the best rivalries in South African school’ sport resumes on Saturday, 11 November, when Michaelhouse welcomes Hilton College to Balgowan for a full day’s action of basketball, cricket and water polo.
The spotlight, though, falls on the annual PinkDrive cricket match, which sees the two schools partnering in support of the non-profit organisation, which promotes the awareness, early detection of, and screening for gender-based cancers in South Africa. Its message is “Early detection will help to prolong a life“.
Expect, then, to see the colour pink liberally displayed all around Michaelhouse’s beautiful campus, with supporters encouraged to show their support by wearing something pink.
The schools are running a PinkDrive campaign on the Sport for Lives website, at https://sportforlives.org/campaigns/pink-drive/. There, anyone and everyone is invited to make a donation.
The description of the initiative reads: “Boys, parents, friends and family are encouraged to donate ahead to get a tree wrapped in honour of a special person who is either a cancer survivor or is fighting the battle, or perhaps someone who they have lost to cancer.
“We invite anyone, no matter what team you are supporting on the day, to get behind this incredible initiative.
“Join us in activating generosity by donating a once-off amount (minimum is R350) to wrap a tree now or before Friday 10th November.
“We will be selling pink caps leading up to the match, as well as on the day, and all proceeds will go to this campaign.”
Kath Boast, the mother of Hilton College captain, Ross Boast, organised the event last year, when Hilton hosted the game. She said the Hilton-Michaelhouse rivalry is not all-consuming for the boys who play in the match.
“It’s very close to the boys’ hearts. My son, for instance, his aunt has breast cancer, and is putting up an amazing fight, and I think for the boys to play for something other than just the result of the cricket match, and to really have their hearts in it, is something very special,” she said.
“A lot of them write messages on their socks, and they wear all the pink ribbon. It’s a really special day. We get the trees sponsored. It is an amazing campaign.”
It’s the third year that the PinkDrive game is being held, but the first time that it is being held at Michaelhouse. That’s why, from the House side, Jo Baker, the mother of Michaelhouse captain, Murray, is organising things, along with the school’s Director of Sport, Ryan Strudwick.
It’s possible the boys see it a little differently – for matriculants like Murray Baker, it’s their last home game – but Joe echoed Kath Boast when she said: “It’s about the cricket, but it’s not about the cricket. The focus is about mixing the cricket with a fundraiser, trying to raise awareness for the PinkDrive campaign.”
The online link, she said, has been shared with parents and the staff of both schools.
“Both schools are very traditional, and we have played each other for many years, and there is always a big rivalry. Hopefully, they will remember why they’re playing the match. Both sides will give it their best shot, I am sure,” Jo said.
While the results are important, the PinkDrive is also an occasion for both sets of parents to enjoy the day, focus on something even more important than a result, that being life, and to enjoy one another’s company.
Jo Baker explained: “There’s great camaraderie between the parents. We are hosting them for lunch. We’re doing a burger braai lunch, with a gin bar, which will be great.”
For some of the players, there’s also the not so small matter of a matric maths exam on Monday to consider. Jo Baker said she advised her son, Murray, who has enjoyed a spectacular run with the bat this term: “Take a deep breath and remember what the day is about. It is your last home game, and just try and manage your time, structure it, and do the best you can do.”
When it comes to traditional rivalries, it is, for the most part, pointless trying to pick a potential winner. Those rivalries tend to turn traditional metrics on their head. One senses, though, that there is a real sense of excitement in the air, not just about the showdown, but about the occasion of the PinkDrive. The aim is that it, at the very least, will be the winner on the day.