The legacy of Nelson Mandela at Flicx UK

Sporting figures across the world have united in praise of Nelson Mandela, who passed away yesterday aged 95. The world-renowned anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa had been in critical condition for the last few months. Mandela will be remembered for his belief in the importance and power of sport. He memorably declared: ‘Sport has the power to change the world, it has the power inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.’

Francois Pienaar accepts the William Webb Ellis trophy from Nelson Mandela in 1995

Francois Pienaar accepts the William Webb Ellis trophy from Nelson Mandela in 1995

The team at Flicx UK were particularly saddened by the news of Mandela’s passing. In many ways, the companies formation was only possible as a result of the cultural shift brought about by the former South African president. Motivated by a desire to use sport to help break down the inequalities, that had existed in his homeland, Managing Director Richard Beghin sifted through a number of ideas before settling on cricket as the solution. “It was around 10 years ago, and Mandela’s new South Africa was just a few years old, so you felt you could help mould the future.” Cricket in South Africa had been seen as a white man’s sport, but Beghin believed that by offering a portable cricket pitch – a roll-down product that could be used on any flat surface – he would widen the accessibility to the game.

The first Flicx pitch was rolled out at Telkom Country Club in Pretoria – helping young cricketers who had been brought up in under-privileged townships to develop their game with the product subsequently having the same impact in many other countries around the world including most recently in the Cricket 4 Peace project in Palestine.

In 2001, Beghin had the idea to hold a cricket match on Robben Island (it’s very first) as a tribute to those that struggled against apartheid. The cricket match was organised by Flicx and saw a Western Provence XI including a number of high profile players take the field against a Robben Island invitational XI featuring several ex political prisoners and wardens, a great indication of the newly formed unity between them. As a legacy, the pitch was left at the primary school on the island.

The match on Robben Island

The match on Robben Island

Richard Beghin (middle) on the Flicx Pitch

Richard Beghin (middle) on the Flicx Pitch with Paul Adams, Charl Langeveldt and Nabeel Deem

The world-renowned leader had been in critical condition for the last few months and his death has been met by tributes from those inspired by one of history’s most iconic leaders. Commenting about Nelson Mandela’s influence on Flicx, founder Richard Beghin said ” Mandela has been a huge inspiration to many South African’s including myself. His philosophy and love of sport as a vehicle towards peace and change really paved the way for the Flicx Pitch to take cricket to “places it had never been played before” in a country that was desperate for new facilities that would allow all races to participate and enjoy the game together”. Inspired by Mandela’s lead, Beghin quit his sales role in an oil company wanting to play his small part in his countries reformation. As a result, through his new pitch, he aspired to see young kids seen for their sporting ability, enthusiasm and skills rather than the the colour of their skin or their social background.

Looking forward to 2014, Flicx will be launching their new 2G range. Now settled at their Brackley base, the business continues to expand with the Crazy Catch rebound nets now an important part of their product portfolio, which still works on the Mandela principle that through sport, we can achieve anything.

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Flicx – the story up to 2G

When founder Richard Beghin realised there weren’t enough facilities for the increasingly-popular sport of cricket in South Africa, he developed the Flicx Cricket Pitch and in August 1997 the first one was rolled out at Telkom Country Club in Pretoria.

Flicx UK Logo

Flicx UK Logo

In 1999, after creating a successful business in South Africa, Richard launched Flicx UK at the England and Wales Cricket coaching conference where his so called “lego” pitch was met with a tremendous response with the ECB ordering 800 for grassroots cricket in the UK while the ICC went on to order Flicx Pitches for the development of the sport all around the world. Flicx has grown to being a well-recognised and respected name in cricketing circles, with our pitches, batting ends and throwdowns being purchased by many clubs and schools and even by individuals wanting to transform their garden into a cricket pitch!!

 Now, new for the 2014 season, we present the 2G Flicx Pitch which is a new playing surface with improved grip and playing performance. Also unlike its predecessor, the 2G Flicx pitches can be bespoked and made to order with the colours and branding of your choice and also comes with an expanded product range which features a new Skills pitch and an innovative Hawkeye pitch. Both of these new designs aid the coaching of young players maintaining Richard’s belief is that if we can teach children at all levels, through sport, that life is about team work, individual skills and the will to win and not about selfishness, greed and individualism that they will have a wonderful opportunity for a better way of life.

Review of the 1st #T20roadshow (Poland & Romania 2013) – Three men in a van

Monday 22nd July- MEET THE VAN

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Neil and Conker  (Dark shadow in bottom right corner) collect the van from Gary, Rich & Kate (The Flicx UK Team)

Wednesday 24th July -DEPARTURE DAY

Carefully packed van leaves Epsom with luggage for Neil & Maurice, 2 of the men and

  • A Flicx cricket pitch,
  • Countless cricket bats, pads, balls
  • Other cricket paraphernalia including Crazy catch and ‘Pop Toss’
  • Two massive solid oak rugby tournament boards
  • Several Rugby Tackle bags

Luckily the Third Man, Robin, was on assignment in Hamburg at this point and didn’t need to squeeze in.

Van arrives in Dover in time for an 11:30am ferry to Calais. Fortunately, the bored chaps in uniforms don’t ask us to take everything out to show them what we had – unlike some other travelers 

A smooth crossing followed by steady progress through France and the Low Countries and into Germany allowed us to reach Hannover by 11pm EET.

This started a theme of arriving at staging posts with just enough time to buy a sandwich from an all-night Tesco’s or the like.  On this occasion it was an industrial sized delivery pizza – much more if this would put intolerable strain on the van – which had already become a trusted friend.

Thursday 25th July-  WILL NEIL’S BAG STILL FIT AFTER OVERNIGHT STOP IN HANNOVER?

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Thursday was another day in the cab but this flew by with the AGG (Altitude Guessing Game).  Maurice’s prediction of 2 ‘peaks’ of 200m or more on the journey looked good for much of the day but Neil figured things would get lumpier further south and his bid of 17 proved spot on.  Once again it was late evening by the time we reached our destination – host Jim Parton’s Piotrowice Nyskie Palace in southern Poland.  Jim is an author originally from the UK and has lived at the Palace with his wife Anna and 5 children for the last 6 years.  This is an on-going restoration project on a huge scale.  Jim is making great progress and is now able to accommodate paying guests and has already run a couple of successful rugby tournaments – hence the rugby gear on the van.  However, the real reason we were there was to work with Jim to deliver the inaugural Piotrowice Nyskie Cricket Festival.

Jim welcomed us into his kitchen but more wary was the owl that had been perched above the sink – it immediately flew into a bedroom.  Turns out it was a rescue owl and we hadn’t arrived at a Polish Hogwarts

Friday 26th July- JIM TESTS THE FLICX WICKET WITH BALL NAILED TO HIS BAT

Friday was spent setting things up before the teams arrived that evening.  Jim had put in a lot of work producing 2 grass strips and of course we had the Flicx pitch.  The obvious thing to do was to lay the Flicx pitch next to the grass wicket so a choice would be made the next day.  Later on Friday the teams from Warsaw CC and Prague Barbarians arrived along with an advance party from Krakow CL.  Finally, just before bedtime, Robin, (The third man) arrived from Hamburg, via Frankfurt, Wroclaw and a local taxi.

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Saturday 27th July- THE TOURNAMENT

The morning of the tournament arrived – this was to be a Sixes event – and was perhaps even hotter than the previous day.  It certainly reached the mid 30’s Centigrade during the afternoon.  An inspection of the pitches revealed that maybe the grass one would need a little more of Jim’s loving care and that the Flicx pitch gave a more consistent bounce.  In the end a great compromise was to use half of the Flicx pitch to bat on and let the bowlers run in on the grass.

The first game pitted Warsaw CC, an exciting blend of ex-pat wisdom and Polish youth against Prague Barbarians, an experienced team from over the border.  Warsaw won in a closely fought game that set the scene for a fantastic day’s play.

The other teams were Krakow CC who brought a squad of 8 to cope with all likely conditions and the unknown quantity of the International Cavaliers made up of Jim, Robin & Neil along with Matt MacDougall, a guest of Jim’s from Chicago who was well versed in baseball but had not played much (any) cricket.

Both Prague and The Cavaliers were very grateful to Warsaw and Krakow for helping out with extra players.  Warsaw went on to win the tournament deservedly winning all their games.  However, perhaps the most spectacular performance came from Stewart Hicks, an Aussie from Krakow who scored 51 not out in 15 balls against Prague.  Had the Aussies not turned things round at Old Trafford there was serious talk of him making the team for the 4th Test Match.

Despite the Saharan temperatures there remained an appetite for more cricket and T10 game followed with amalgamated teams.

Jim and Anna provided fantastic hospitality in the evening to some very weary players, and Tarun was delighted to accept the trophy on behalf of Warsaw CC.  Nonetheless, everyone was up early on Sunday for a long hitting competition won by Pragatti from Warsaw CC and a further game of T15.  Some new talent was on show for this game with Weronicka and Lidia from Warsaw CC joining in, and as ever, all of the action was captured fantastically by Joanna, the official Warsaw CC photographer.

Sunday 28th July- SO LONG PIOTROWICE NYSKIE

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After fond farewells, we truly were 3 men in a van, thankfully minus the rugby gear. We experimented with all three of us in the front for a while but this proved rather snug so we took turns in the back.

We enjoyed a spectacular journey through the Czech Republic and Slovakia – the altitude reading on the Sat Nav struggling to keep up, 983 metres being the top reading.  Predictably though it was well after 10pm when we arrived at the Hotel Prim in one of the less prepossessing industrial estates in Bratislava.  We chose to ignore the well-meant suggestion from the Hotel receptionist that we take a tram for the 7km into the City Centre.  Even our trusted van couldn’t get us in there in time for food, but a couple of drinks at The Alchemist and a sandwich from the 24hr Tesco did the job.

Monday 29th July-  THE TOUR CONTINUES…

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 We joined the Monday morning rush hour traffic the next day for the start of another 400+ mile journey – this time on rather more basic roads.  Slovakia gave way to Hungary and in late afternoon we entered Romania.  The gathering gloom in Transylvania might have put the willies up lesser men but we knew the van wouldn’t let us down.  It really did feel like we’d arrived somewhere different though with horse-drawn carts abounding and storks nesting on the top of lampposts.

We knew the score by now and bought some provisions on the road to our destination, Cluj – some Romanian cheese, yoghurt and even some Aerial to allow us to wash our pungent training gear.  We were looking forward to a couple of night’s stay in our host Marc’s city centre flat.  Marc is the newly elected President of Cluj CC but lives out of town so we were met by the club vice-captain, Andrei.  Andrei interrupted his evening run to show us the flat and point us in the direction of local Sport’s Bar.  Of course we were too late for food but we didn’t care, we had cheese.

Tuesday 30th July – COACHING AT CLUJ CC

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Next morning, Marc met us at the flat and led the way to the ground.  Unlike our stay in Poland, the precise format of the next 2 days was a little looser.  It would combine some coaching, a little teacher training and some match opportunities but in what ratio would depend upon who turned up.  One thing for sure was that we would be presenting Cluj CC with the Flicx wicket kindly donated by our partners.

In the event some of the players from Cluj CC couldn’t make it due to work commitments.  However, we were delighted to work with Virgil, Eddison and Tudor, teachers from the local International School, Duschant, Ruben, Pavel along with Marc from the Cluj CC and two new recruits Andreea and Raul.  Over the course of the next two days we went through some coaching drills, were treated to Eddison’s warm-up routines, had another Pop-Toss long-hitting competition (perhaps not surprisingly won by Pavel who also plays American Football) and played some matches. This was fantastic fun and the level of commitment was exceptional.

 On Tuesday evening we were taken to the only Indian restaurant in Cluj, the Indigo, as guests as of the very kind proprietor, and enjoyed a fantastic meal.

 Wednesday 1st August- BEGINNING OF THE END

 The hospitality continued on Wednesday with a complimentary lunch at the Cantina Primariei ‘Memo 10’ after bumping into Cluj socialites the Cheeky Girls in the street.  There was just enough time left to visit the very impressive Bridge Language Study House which Marc runs with his wife Gyongyver – Robin is signing up to learn Romanian remotely.

We left Cluj in mid-afternoon hoping to make Budapest in time for an evening meal though we all knew this would never happen.  In the event we reached the Achat Hotel around 10pm as usual and then took a taxi into the centre.  Needless to say there was just enough time for a couple of drinks and another dose of Tesco’s finest.

Thursday August 1st- A SERIOUS DRIVING DAY

Around 600 miles to Frankfurt but fortunately it was largely motorway and progress through Hungary, Austria and Germany was swift and allowed us to arrive before 8pm.  Robin met an old friend and Maurice and Neil disappointed the local Tesco by going for a pizza.

Friday August 2nd- THE LAST DAY

The final day was smooth enough and we easily reached Calais for our 4:30pm ferry.  Once over the channel it took a while for us to drive on the left and revert to speaking English but normal service was resumed by the time we got back to Epsom.

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Israel win Flicx match pitch through Cricket4Peace story

Heartwarming story generates huge interest

The International Cricket Council- Europe in partnership with Flicx UK today announced the Israel Cricket Association (ICA) as the winner of ‘How cricket has made a difference to your life?’ competition, for Shehadeh Salamin’s story of how Cricket4Peace changed his community and the lives of many in the troubled Palestinian region.

Shehadeh Salamin’s heartwarming story which really demonstrates the power of sport, generated huge interest and received over 2,500 page views,  please see his story as follows:

“My name Shehadeh Salamin 16, from al – Samoa. All my life, I dreamt of being a famous Palestinian footballer…until our village was introduced to cricket. The game rapidly became our flagship sport, with most kids preferring cricket over soccer!

Shesadeh Salamin on the right with his new friend from Israel

Shesadeh Salamin on the right with his new friend from Israel

I soon found that the more I played, the better I became. But to progress to the next level, we needed more cricketers. Someone proposed holding joint activities with Israeli kids. I must admit, I had concerns. However, when we reached Beersheba, the Israeli coach, George, greeted us with kindness. His warm words broke the barrier of fear in me. I thought to myself “I like to play cricket, just like Israeli children. So it would be fun to play together.”

We played in mixed teams with the Israelis and I enjoyed it! We had amazing collaboration. The head coach said to me in Arabic: “Bravo, you are a great player”. I felt very proud and our next practice couldn’t come too soon. Cricket has given me a new lease of life. Now I am a more confident person with a real desire to continue improving my game. And my dreams have changed too.

Today I dream of a cricket club in Palestine and of becoming the first Palestinian cricketer to play in an international league. I’m sure that with those Israeli and Palestinian children who participated with me, we can also realize the dream of peace together. When holding a cricket bat, I feel I hold the whole world.”

The Israel Cricket Association through the Cross Border cricket project is using cricket to facilitate interaction and communication to break down barriers between ethnic groups. Stage 1 of the project involves bringing together Jewish and Bedouin children in the Negev area, with Stage 2 to include Palestinian youth from the West Bank, a project currently being coordinated with the Peres Center for Peace – Cricket4Peace.

Cricket Ireland were run into a very close second place with Dundalk CC, Eddie Bosano-Andrews story and they will receive a Flicx Crazy Catch Wildchild and Freestyle. Crazy Catch is the “Ultimate Rebound Net” and comes as a new handheld model for the new season. The other finalists included Estonia, Spirit of Cricket by Sharath Geetha; Germany, Cricket Club Bonn by Raymond Cooray; Israel, Cricket4Peace by Sharon Gudker and Spain, Lanzarote Cricket Association by Peter Starmer.

Speaking about the interest in the competition Flicx UK’s Managing Director Richard Beghin commented. “The Flicx team were amazed by the quality of stories which were put forward and the enthusiasm with which all the finalists promoted their entries within their cricketing networks. It really shows the vital role that sport plays in changing people’s lives for the better, which is the very reason why the Flicx Pitch was developed in post apartheid South Africa to help break down racial barriers”.

For further information, please contact:

Nick Pink– ICC Regional Development Manager- Europe

Office: +44 (0)20 7616 8637 : Mobile: +44 (0)7788 307022 : Email: nick.pink@icc-europe.org

Kate Costin – Brand Development Manager, Flicx UK

Office: +44 (0)1295 816765 : Mobile: +44 (0)7513 025712 : Email: kate@flicx.com

How has cricket changed your life – Voting Open

Voting is now open to win a Flicx Match pitch from our short list of 6 amazing entries from ICC Europe memebers and their stories of “How Cricket has changed their lives” …

ICC Europe Official Supplier - Flicx UK

ICC Europe Official Supplier – Flicx UK

We are asking ICC countries to vote and to share this competition to win a Flicx Match pitch for 1 lucky ICC Europe member by circulating this page around your network of clubs and players. We are looking for your thoughts on the entry that best fits our competition title “How has cricket changed your life”

Our finalists are…

  1. Estonia – Spirit of Cricket- Sharath Geetha
  2. Germany – Cricket Club Bonn – Raymond Cooray
  3. Ireland – Dundalk CC – Eddie Bosano- Andrews
  4. Israel – Cricket4Peace – Sharon Gudker
  5. Lanzarote- Lanzarote Cricket Association – Peter Starmer
  6. Palestinian Authority submitted by the Israel Cricket Association – Cricket4Peace- Shehadeh Salamin

In order to vote, simply read all the entries and decide which your favourite story is… You then need to click the LIKE button under that blog on a 1 vote per person basis (using the Twitter and Facebook shares on the page itself is also accepted) . Our finalists are able to share their stories on their unique URL in order to achieve more awareness for their entries and also more generally to promote cricket in their country.

Voting closes on the 8th March.

Good Luck to all and thank-you in advance for your interest in the Flicx UK / ICC Europe competition and for all of your votes. (NB- You need to be registered on WordPress to LIKE and vote- it’s a simple process to join and why not follow the FLICX UK Blog too) For more information on buying a Flicx Pitch please call us on 01295 816765 or visit the products page on our blog to find out more….