Promising Northern Cape youngster, Monapule Jansen is the latest recipient of a medical intervention funded by Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Player Performance Plan (PPP). The under-13 provincial player underwent a successful life-changing ear operation at the Gariep Mediclinic in Kimberley on Friday.

Jansen, who represented Northern Cape during the 2018 Momentum under-13 tournament in Benoni, was last year diagnosed with Cholesteatoma, a progressive inner-ear disease affecting both ears that can lead to a loss of hearing and acute pain. Due to the severity of the ailment and its nature, a surgical procedure was recommended to remove the disease and prevent further morbidity.

The Player Performance Plan is CSA’s brainchild aimed at making cricket a truly national sport of winners through creating accessibility to the game for all, while in pursuit of excellence. A practical plan was developed to provide identified players who display the necessary cricket attributes with the best possible opportunity to perform at every level, alleviating existing non-cricket related socio-economic factors. This will enable cricket in the country to have an increased pool of players at a professional level, an increased pool of Black African players and create a strong base with a sustainable flow of successful performing cricketers.

The interventions available through the PPP include medical, technical, transport, psychological/physical/nutritional, equipment/accommodation and education.

“We started with this performance plan three years ago, with the sole purpose of closing performance gaps between players from previously disadvantaged environments compared to those that are advantageous,” said Edward Khoza, CSA Cricket Services Manager.

“The PPP was created to make sure that when any performance gap, whether it is a sickness, a skills issue, education or psychological factor, is identified, we can diagnose it and ensure we have a plan to address it. You find these gaps with these young players when they come from difficult backgrounds. Monapule has lost both his parents and he lives with his aunt in an informal settlement, so an intervention like this wouldn’t be possible in normal circumstances if it wasn’t for his cricketing ability, which is one of the criteria. 

“He was quite fortunate to receive this medical intervention as it is not your typical cricket intervention. Now, he will benefit in the classroom at school through the improved hearing and holistically, he will now also look at cricket in a different way,” Khoza added.

Northern Cape Cricket Union’s Coach Education Manager, Finley Brooker is one of the leading role-players regarding the PPP at the union and along with his Framework coach, Justin Jordaan, was integral in identifying Jansen’s condition towards the end of last year.

Brooker and Jordaan worked closely with Jansen and his family over an extended period to get the help the 13-year-old required.

“We identified last year that Monapule had some hearing issues,” Brooker recalled ahead of the operation last Friday. “Speaking to some of his Regional Performance Centre (RPC) coaches, they confirmed that they picked up similar issues with him. I decided to head down to his practice one day to test the waters and just by having a conversation with him, I found that he was answering incorrectly to certain questions and that got us thinking.

“We investigated it further and set up an appointment with an audiologist, before taking him to an ENT specialist, who recommended corrective surgery. With it being closer to the exams, we decided to put it on hold because we didn’t want it to interfere with his preparation,” he added.

“Fast-forward a couple of months, I received a call from Justin, telling me that Monapule is in a bit of pain,” Brooker continued. “We then sent him to the ENT specialist again and, following an MRI scan, we found that the ear had worsened.

“We then started the process of contacting CSA, told them what happened and got their complete backing to help the boy because the PPP is not just about cricket, but it is about helping to change lives. With Monapule’s background, he doesn’t just have medical issues, there are other socio-economic issues that affect the whole thing.

“I am pretty excited about the opportunity. I am excited for Monapule because there’s no guarantee he’ll play for South Africa one day but if we can help him ensure a better income-capacity later in his life, that’s what it is all about,” Brooker concluded.

Jansen is the second Northern Cape cricketer to receive assistance from the PPP, with Thami Mothonxa having undergone a major shoulder operation in 2017 after severely dislocating it in a match. Thanks to the surgery, Mothonxa has performed well since and has gone on to earn a spot in the South African Colts side that emerged from the 2018/19 Franchise Academy Week, a story that embodies the Player Performance Plan’s main objectives.

Following a successful operation attending to the one ear, Jansen will undergo the second part of the surgery later this year in hope to get him back to good health and into his whites on the field ahead of the 2019 Momentum U15 Week.