South African president’s son learns about IPL

May 21st, 2009 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, May 21 (IANS) While his father, President Jacob Zuma, prepares to run the country after his recent election, Duduzani Zuma is learning the intricacies of Twenty20 cricket with the aid of his close friend and Indian business partner, Tony Gupta.

Gupta is the youngest of the three brothers, the others being Ajay and Atul, who have become highly influential in South Africa after settling here from India to start up Sahara Computers, now a leading IT company in the country.

Tony Gupta and the younger Zuma reportedly played an important role in influencing the decision for the IPL to consider coming to South Africa after it was forced to move out of India because of security concerns during the election period there.

“We have had close ties to the BCCI and Mr. Lalit Modi and we were happy to welcome the IPL opportunity to South Africa and act as a bridge between the parties,” Gupta told IANS in an interview.

“Sahara has always been passionate about cricket and our association with sport is quite well known.”

“Sport has played a very important role in the building of this nation and our two countries have enjoyed an excellent relationship, so it was only natural for us to encourage the organisers to bring the IPL to SA.”

Although Gupta downplayed his family’s role, the Guptas were lauded by then acting president Kgalema Motlanthe at the opening ceremony in Cape Town.

“Working with the IPL, we shared our experiences with the stadium owners and respective cricket unions. The IPL have retained our stadium naming in South African cities, which we hope will go a long way in promoting these names globally, as we have also renewed our naming rights contracts this year displaying our long term commitment to cricket.”

Young Zuma has conceded to not knowing much about cricket, but learning very fast: “I guess by having Tony Gupta as a business partner cricket is always a topic widely discussed and watched.

“I am trying to learn more of the rules and I have started to indulge in the game at the Gupta residence where I am still trying to get my batting right before I can join in the action cricket games.”

Zuma said one of his priorities would be to get more members of the black community interested in cricket: “Most definitely, we love sport in this country and players like Makhaya Ntini are getting the black youth more interested in cricket.

“There is definitely a growing support base amongst blacks for this wonderful game. I think the 20 overs format of the game has enticed a wider audience of fans from all backgrounds and denominations.”

Despite his confession of not knowing much, Zuma seems to have made the right choice of team: “I met the owner of the Deccan Chargers soon after the series started, so I have been watching them closely; and besides they have one of my favourite players - Hershelle Gibbs. The other player I enjoy watching in the IPL is Jacques Kallis.”

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