Thando Ntini (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
- Makhaya Ntini revealed an instance where he stuck up for his son Thando, whom he feared would miss out on 2018 Under-19 World Cup selection.
- Ntini met with the Junior Proteas management and medical staff to question a stress fracture injury that an MRI scan showed on Thando’s back.
- The former Proteas fast bowler was asked at a press conference on Thursday what he was doing to make sure his son, who plays for the Titans, avoided the negative experiences he had in his 13-year international career.
Former Proteas fast bowler Makhaya Ntini said there were instances where he had to intervene in his son Thando’s career to ensure fair selection policies applied to his 20-year-old protégé.
Ntini, whose son is a pace bowler for the Titans, was speaking to media at briefing with Eastern Cape Sports MEC Fezeka Nkomonye, where he was asked what he was doing to make sure his son did not suffer some of the negative experiences he shared publicly last week.
He revealed an instance when he questioned an injury pertaining to his son in the lead up to an SA Under-19 camp in 2017, ahead of the 2018 Junior World Cup.
“There was a time where they didn’t want him to play in the Under-19 World Cup because of what they say were injuries,” Ntini said.
“And so I had to intervene. I was able to ask whoever was in charge, what is really the issue? If the issue is injuries and the ‘bigger picture’, then what exactly is that bigger picture?
“As a 17-year-old, the only bigger picture is for you to play in your provincial Under-17 team and then to make the SA Under-19 touring or World Cup team. That for me was the bigger picture, so that as they grow up they can tick those boxes.
“Making those steps will then lead to achieving the even bigger picture, which is to represent your country [at senior level].
“I asked them if they had spoken to Thando to get how he felt but nobody answered that question because they were too focused on what’s written on paper, the stats and stuff [MRI scan].
“I then said, if he is able play, I will take 100% ownership if he breaks down at the tournament.”
A member of the Under-19 selection panel in that period, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed management and medical staff had met the Ntinis as per their regular protocol when a boy is injured.
He said MRI scans revealed Thando had a stress fracture in his back ahead of the camp and had complained to his dad about soreness.
At the Cape Town meeting, Ntini said his son was fine enough to bowl at camp. Thando, who was 17 at the time, was later included in the Under-19 World Cup squad.
“Thando had a sore back and he went for scans and the results came back that he had a stress fracture,” the selector said.
“The MRI said he had a stress fracture but Makhaya said Thando was fine. We then allowed Thando to come to camp.
“It wasn’t controversial at all. We had a meeting in Cape Town and the medical staff said it’s high risk but if Makhaya feels he should go bowl then we’ll give him that chance.
“Yes, there was a meeting and we let him bowl some more and Thando was fine. We always had to get the parents involved anyway in these kinds of instances and we met him as a parent.”
Ntini revealed on SABC television show Morning Live last week he would often run to and from training facilities to the hotel to avoid the loneliness he felt inside the team bus.
He added there were instances where Proteas team-mates would avoid having dinner with him, which was tough on him as the only black African in the team in the early years.
Ntini said he was “the best coach” for Thando because he could impart his knowledge and experiences to his son.
“Thando has the best coach ever, because the journey I have walked, he was part of it.
“As young as he was, he remembers seeing the sadness of his father when he came back from a game where there were some players who wouldn’t even want to have dinner with him.”