Yastri Naidoo reflects on his time in Ireland

After months of training, packing and repacking along with family goodbyes, we left South Africa on June 15th, nervous yet excited about the opportunity of a lifetime. About 28 hours later, Erik Hartman and I touched down exhausted but exhilarated at Dublin Airport.

We got our bags, got through immigration in a breeze and were warmly met by Mr Brían O’Rourke, the Cricket Leinster Development Manager. After a brief conversation about flights etc, we packed our bags into his car and we were off.

We first headed to Malahide Cricket Club - my host club. Upon arrival, I saw stands being set up for the upcoming international game against India and saw teams were playing already. I met with the first team captain Fintan McAllister and was asked if I was okay to play that afternoon. I was excited and a bit nervous when I put on the cricket kit but I managed to pull myself through.

I later also said goodbye to my school friend Erik who was also on the exchange programme with me, but he would be playing for the Phoenix Cricket Club. A couple of minutes later I unpacked and got kit and was ready to play against North County. I also had met my host who was David O’Halloran and his father as well.

I met other players from Ireland as well as some from South Africa. We played the first game and I was excited to see that there was an excellent standard of cricket. After the game, I met the rest of the O’Halloran family. They welcomed me as if I was one of their own and I did not feel as if I was just a stranger to them.

David and I were yet again at Malahide the next day as I played for the second team. I met and played with a great team and during my stay I played approximately 20 games with Malahide. I played a couple of games for the U17 Malahide team who played really well and have a young and talented team. I also have the opportunity to play for the 1st XI at The Mardyke, Cork which was an amazing experience

During my trip, I was part of the Malahide ground staff for the international between Ireland and India. This was an awesome to experience as I got to see my idols of the Indian and Ireland team. I got the amazing experience to take a picture with legendary batsman and player MS Dhoni. I also had the amazing opportunity to bowl to the Irish team. The head coach Graeme Ford (who is also from Durban) gave me tips that I will never forget. I also got to meet Ireland’s first Test centurion Kevin O’Brien.

I enjoyed having the independence of travelling freely on the public transport in Dublin and seeing a bit of Ireland. This was a new experience which I thoroughly enjoyed and I’m extremely grateful for the experience. I would especially like to thank the O’Halloran family for giving me a home where I felt loved and welcomed. A thousand thanks would never be enough. They made my experience a joy and I cannot thank them enough. I

 would also thank my cricket family and friends at Malahide Cricket Club, they have taught me a lot of myself and about cricket in Ireland. Overall Malahide is a beautiful and loving place. The people are warm and friendly as well as helpful. Everything is so close and convenient.

Lessons learned during the trip:

  • 1. To back to myself as a batsman.
  • 2. To back my training.
  • 3. To always think positively on and off the field.
  • 4. To never give up for anything.

Any advice:

  • 1. To never doubt the passion of the Irish people.
  • 2. Enjoy the sun as much as possible.
  • 3. To never think you are off a lower standard than anyone else.

Thank you to Cricket Leinster for this amazing, life-changing opportunity. We look forward to receiving and hosting the next group of young Leinster players who will be spending time at our school Glenwood High, Durban next January.

Yastri Naidoo (16) Glenwood High School, Durban, South Africa