What an absolute blast we had on Friday evening – it’s the very first time both Soph and I have joined the boys at Imperial Wanderers Stadium – and the first time us girls had seen anyone, besides the Grade 1’s, play cricket live. Oli started playing cricket this year at school, so honestly, up until now I haven’t really paid much mind to the sport and the Mzansi Super League series. After a crash course from the kids and their buddies, we prepared for our first family outing to the cricket!
The opening match between the Jozi Stars and Cape Town Blitz has been all they can talk about for more than a week (to the point of exhaustion – mine, not theirs) and every two minutes in the car on the way to the stadium we had to field the question of ‘are we nearly there yet’. As we pulled up to the stadium, these two, eye’s the size of saucers, shrieked with excitement. We were lucky enough to have basement parking below the stadium and were escorted through the maze of excited fans to our parking spot. Flags were waving, a band marched through the bustling crowd and spirits were high. The Jozi Stars (last year’s winners) were to take on the Cape Town Blitz (last year’s runners up).
We decided to first grab a bite to eat as it was supper time for the kids (the game was starting at 17:30) and we had quite a variety to choose from – Spur, an Uber Eats Pick Up Point, Chip ‘n Dip, Gourmet Fudge, Indian and Mexican cuisine, artisanal hotdogs and, much to Oli’s entertainment, Oliver’s Fish and Chips! Next stop was the loo, which were pleasantly clean. Then, time to find our seats on the grand stand. We had general access tickets and the ushers and security were so helpful. Although the stadium wasn’t packed to capacity, the vibe was electric. I also noticed how many families were there, with children of all ages, whether they sat in the stands or on the grass (tip, get there early for a good spot on the grass). The kids ooh’ed and aah’ed with each firework and flame (which, unfortunately for us Jozi Stars fans was a lot as the Cape Town Blitz smashed six, after six). Soph was totally there for the music and entertained us, along with the rest of the stands with her dance moves. Oli was glued to the match – shouting for Gayle (Chris Gayle), at one point literally praying for our team to hit a six (bless him) and shouting so loud in the last two overs he kept waking Soph up from her power nap! He never stopped cheering – we’ll definitely need to make some more trips to these live games, he’s hooked!
The vibe was fantastic – music, fireworks, and a crowd as excited as we were (you could literally feel the electricity) – literally fast fun for all. It was a bit of a later night for the kids (by the time we drove out the stadium it was 21:30) but well, well worth it.
Some tips for families making the outing:
Take cash – once you’re seated there are various vendors that sell ice-creams (R50 each), cooldrinks (R25), water (R20), candy floss buckets (R30) and of course the face paint stamps with the team’s emblems on it (R20) – and trust me the kids are going to look at you with longing eyes as each of the vendors passes by.
The merchandise on sale as you go through the main gate is not cheap (even a cap is R200).
Take wipes for sticky hands, and for when your kid decides they no longer want their face paint on.
Take a jersey – it was boiling hot when we arrived but towards the end we had some light rain – you never know with evening matches!
If you want to be in the family area on the grass, get there early to get a good spot. The batsmen teams are seated right there and kids were getting autographs during the whole game, not just at the end.
If you want an autograph – head to the family area before the last over. It’s going to be pandemonium. From avid cricket fans (adults) screaming at the players like they were at a bidding auction to unruly kids shoving whatever could be signed in the player’s faces, I felt a little like a sardine. Oli had come with his special little cricket bat (and marker pens) especially for some signatures though, so we didn’t want to let him down. He even practiced throughout the match what he was going to say. When he saw Nono Pongolo he held out his bat and said “Please may you sign my bat, kind Sir.” – I mean! How freaking cute. Nono smiled at him and it totally made Oli’s night. Also, people, please have some freaking manners – these are professional cricketers, who are under no obligation to sign anything – be nice. We hustled four other signatures – unfortunately we didn’t get Rabada or Gayle, but Oli was proud as punch!
If you wanted Uber’s you could grab a ride from the Wanderer’s Club – the road to the stadium was blockaded and they only opened it for people with parking tickets (our parking ticket was like gold I tell you!).
This series is ideal for families with younger kids – it’s fast, it’s fun and the kids won’t be bored. It was such a treat, the entire family had fun and it’s most definitely something I’d recommend. The Mzansi Super League T20 still runs for another 5 exciting weeks until the 16th December, you can check out all the fixtures here , and for ticket information click here.
Disclaimer: This was part of a paid partnership but all views and experiences are my own.