Sports & Fitness

Marieta Pretorius: Cricket coach

Marieta Pretorius: Cricket coach

Female cricket lovers usually watch the game without ever giving a thought to playing it. Marieta Pretorius is the exception to the rule. We visit her in White River to chat about the sport and life in general.

TELL US ABOUT WHERE YOU COME FROM?
My father farmed for many years. When I was in grade nine, he sadly had to give up farming due to severe drought. We moved to Tzaneen where I attended Hoërskool Ben Vorster and after matric I studied medical technology at Technikon Pretoria, now called Tshwane University of Technology. My mother was teacher until her retirement a few years ago.

I am married to Johan and my boys have already finished school. Heinrich studied architectural draughting and Christopher is studying a BCom degree in economics and risk management at North-West University. The both play Last Man Stands cricket league and for different clubs.

FROM MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY TO CRICKET? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
Both my sons have loved cricket since they were small. At the time I felt that they needed a different coaching approach to develop their full potential. My love and dedication to my two children basically urged me to go for cricket-coaching courses. I realised that other boys and parents also had a need for professional coaching and Unique Cricket Academy was born 14 years ago. Today I coach 20 classes every week.

YOU HAVE A GOOD DOSE OF PERSEVERANCE.
Yes. I am quite strong willed and do not give up easily. My grandmother had a large impact on how I see the world today. When I was a little girl, we used to bake together. She was quite strict about order, discipline and following the recipe. Because of this, needless to say, her baking seldom flopped. And that is my approach to life. It is evident in my coaching too: follow the recipe and everything will be fine. Discipline and order are also very important in my cricket nets.

She also taught me to see potential in every single person and to always be generous.

I’ve had to overcome many obstacles in the past: life is full of mountains that need to be climbed. If ascended with focus and perseverance, you will reach the top a stronger person. If not, success will stay a dream in the distance. I also try to teach this to my pupils.

HOW DO YOU COPE IN A MAN’S WORLD?
That was and still is one of the greatest obstacles. Through the years many men in the industry had a difficult time accepting and acknowledging a woman in their midst and I have never felt part of the “team”. I must admit that it is getting better – slowly but surely. I must further mention that there were also men who appreciated and supported me. I think, among others, about Jaco van Zyl, a retired teacher from White River Primary, who time and again phoned and thanked me for the impact I made on young cricket players’ lives. Thís kept me going in difficult times.

TELL A BIT MORE ABOUT COACHING.
The main object is to develop skills in all kids who love cricket – irrespective of skills level or talent. I develop fitness, balance, coordination, bowling, batting and fielding.

Over the years I have obtained quite a few pieces of equipment. I use Sensbalance MiniBoards to develop balance and FITLIGHT Trainer lights for reaction or response and vision training, among other things. When we practise batting, I use six different bowling machines to cover a variety of balls batsmen can expect, for instance the different spin and fast balls.

I also use PitchVision, a state-of-the-art cricket analysis system and ordinary CCTV cameras in my coaching. It is good to be able to show the children first-hand where their performance can improve.

The secret is to have a creative approach. It is also very important not to treat all children alike. Every one has his/her own unique personality and level of development and needs to be coached on that specific level. It is sometimes difficult, but definitely doable and extremely rewarding to observe the progress.

DO YOU ONLY COACH CRICKET?
No, I coach a few toddlers from as young as three years too. I develop their balance, coordination and motor skills by playing different games with them. I do the same for the preschoolers at King’s School in White River. It is extremely rewarding to see good results from week to week.

Tennis players also visit the academy to develop muscular strength, balance, hand and eye coordination and accuracy with great results.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PARENTS AND PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH KIDS?
The other day a high school pupil told me that I must never get old or retire because his cricket session is the highlight of his week. He called me the psychologist, doctor and coach and mentioned that every kid can just be him- or herself in my cricket nets. This made me reflect on my relationship with the children I coach.

I think that good communication is enormously important. It arises from a parent’s involvement in his or her child’s life. To support a kid’s undertakings is also important: children need to learn that success cost hard work and also needs support and guidance in difficult situations. These life skills they learn mainly from their parents. All adults who work with children – parents in particular – should try to understand each child’s life on his or her level. It is also important that children be taught discipline, good manners and respect. These skills are vital, but scarce these days.

I belief that every single parent wants what’s best for their children in often difficult circumstances. But I also believe that parents should never stop trying to find new ways of building stronger parental-child relationships. In the end, parents are to a great extent responsible for the adults their children become.

Get in touch
Marieta on 082-497-6880

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