Batsman of the moment Kyle van Leeuwen talks to Frontrowzim about playing sport in junior school. The Hellenic Academy fifth form student also talks to us about his experiences in Zimbabwe colours – albeit for hockey and squash. Kyle was awarded the batsman of the tournament for his efforts during Hellenic’s debut appearance at the St George’s T20 tournament.
Frontrowzim.com: Tell us about Kyle and sport.
Kyle: I started playing cricket in junior school but hardly ever performed for the team. I then went to Hellenic Academy where there were barely enough boys to make a first team and so being selected wasn’t difficult. However, being so few of us our coaches were able to focus a lot of their energy on us and so we were constantly improving both individually and as a team. Cricket is not my only sport; I enjoy squash as well as hockey. I was also more of a swimmer than anything else in junior school but dropped this to focus on my hockey, squash and cricket once at Hellenic. Sports have always been a major part of my life. It is important to remember however, that the classroom is also a major priority at this stage in my life.
Frontrowzim.com: You are a boy of many talents, which sport did you fall in love with first?
Kyle: That’s tricky. Probably swimming.
Frontrowzim.com: Why swimming?
Kyle: Swimming was my main sport at junior school. I was very committed to it and I was the swimming captain.
Frontrowzim.com: You joined Hellenic when it was a fairly new school. Was this your decision or you wanted to be somewhere else?
Kyle: At first my parents were keen for either St John’s College or St George’s College. However, after going to the Hellenic open day, our opinions changed.
Frontrowzim.com: You are not rewriting but rather writing Hellenic’s history. What do you want to be remembered for, when you leave the school?
Kyle: I would hope to be remembered as a good ambassador of the school, both on the field and in the classroom. I would also hope that I would be remembered for being a good team member and contributor to the various sports I partake in, and perhaps as a role model for the juniors to look up to and remember in the future.
Frontrowzim.com: Who would you credit for Hellenic’s unexpected success on the cricket field?
Kyle: Definitely my coach, Mr Chitare and his assistant coach Mr Fourie. They both put a 100% into the team and are fully committed to bringing out the best in us as a unit. The pupils are also to be credited, as they remain passionate and hungry to win, even while lacking basic cricketing needs such as a first team home ground. There are also a lot of people behind the scene who play a large part in Hellenic’s success.
Frontrowzim.com: What were your best experiences playing for your country?
Kyle: I have not represented Zimbabwe (at national team level) in cricket yet. However, I did play Zimbabwe squash and hockey and would have to say my best experience would have to have been on hockey tour in Pretoria last year and scoring my first national goal.
Frontrowzim.com: You have had an excellent start to the cricket season, can we expect more?
Kyle: Hopefully! I set high expectations and so do my coaches. So I’ll try keeping my focus and intensity up and hopefully the results will keep coming!
Frontrowzim.com: When you step-up to the crease, what’s on your mind?
Kyle: “Don’t get caught!” As I’m an attacking batsman, I am regularly hitting on the up, resulting in me being caught. This is not only frustrating but considered uncalled for by my coaches. It is something I’ve been working on with Mr Chitare, especially when facing spin.
Frontrowzim.com: Whose deliveries do you find the most challenging in the local schools league?
Kyle: I struggle with spinners as I prefer the ball coming onto the bat and so I would have to say anyone who flights it in slowly with a lot of turn.
Frontrowzim.com: Any sporting role models?
Kyle: Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle are right up there. However, I also like Michael Clarke and Rahul Dravid.
Frontrowzim.com: Any goals for next year?
Kyle: I would definitely like to be given a position of authority at Hellenic but I’m also focused on getting full colors for hockey and cricket.
Frontrowzim.com: How do you intend to go about reaching out for those goals?
Kyle: Well practice is always intense and so as long as I try to maintain my standards and focus on doing the basics right, consistently, I should hopefully be able to reach my goals.
Frontrowzim.com: Do you think we overrate discipline in the development of sports people?
Kyle: No, not at all. Discipline is a big factor even at Hellenic and so we try and keep our discipline levels up while on the field, under the captaincy of James Suddens. Poor discipline can also lead to lack of focus and intensity, which could affect your results individually and as a unit.
Frontrowzim.com: Any words you live by?
Kyle: “Those who dare, win!”
Image Credits: Niovi Paliouras