In the world of professional sport many players find themselves missing out on opportunities that could launch their career and often times these chances do not come around a second time. But for BSc Computer Science undergraduate, Ethan Cunningham, this opportunity came and he did not drop the proverbial ball with this one. Cunningham has recently signed his first professional contract with the WP Blitz cricketing franchise.
The younger of three siblings, having two older sisters, grew up in Noordhoek and while the Maties Cricket star was born in Zimbabwe, his family moved to Cape Town when Ethan was just three years old. He attended Sun Valley Primary and as Cunningham explains it was the no-homework-policy that his primary school alma mater employed that fuelled his love to try his hand at all sports the school had to offer, but it was cricket that has had Ethan’s dedication and passion ever since he first started playing the gentlemen’s game.
“I attended a primary school called Sun Valley Primary which is located in the deep south near Fish Hoek,” Cunningham proudly stated. “I have loved any sort of ball game since before I can remember and began playing cricket when I was 4. I have always loved sports and tried to play as many as I can especially during my primary school years where I had the opportunity with a no homework policy to try out as many as I could. In primary school I played cricket, rugby, hockey, swimming, tennis, squash and athletics through the different years but my favourites are cricket and rugby and also enjoy some social golf and squash today.”
Cunningham’s affiliation to cricket took centre stage when he entered into the high school world, having attended the prestigious Southern Suburban Cape Town all boys school, Rondebosch Boys, it was here where Ethan, who matriculated last year, sifted through his love for sport and set his sights on cricket.
“I attended Rondebosch Boys School,” Cunningham continued, “which was different going from a Co-ed primary school to an all-boys high school but I loved my high schooling years. It was here that I realised my love for the game but that I could still study and play cricket, both are very important to me.”
Coming from a very supportive and close-knit family environment, Cunningham’s parents have been supporting him, much like any parent would do, and it is this support that has allowed Ethan to achieve some amazing accolades in recent years. Most recently, he represented South Africa at the 2022 U19 World Cup.
“My parents have had a huge impact on my sporting and academic career,” he boldly states, “from my mom spending countless hours driving me to multiple sports practices to my dad’s inspirational conversations and books like Legacy or Extreme Ownership. They have really helped inspire me and motivated me to learn on my journey. My parents are definitely up there with regards to inspiring me in different ways from the way they live to exposing me to new experiences and encouraging me out of my comfort zone. Another honour is being able to join the Maties High Performance cricket program and team while being a first year.”
The right hand batsman feels right at home in a squad which features a host of Proteas including George Linde, Kyle Verreynne, Beuran Hendricks, and Wayne Parnell with experienced campaigner Dane Paterson returning to the Cape Town based franchise ahead of the 2022/23 season.
In a recent interview posted on the Cricket Fanatics Magazine, WP Blitz head coach, Salieg Nackerdien applauded the talented Cunningham and highlighted his excitement to be working with the Maties Cricket Club star batsman.
“Ethan is a young, up-and-coming all-rounder. He’s a homegrown talent and we want to see that he grows his game and becoming an asset for WP in the future,” Nackerdien stated.
Cunningham understands the honour and privileged position his career is in even though it still feels like a dream to him. Given the amount of talented and senior players that he now calls teammates, he knows that he can definitely learn from them.
“To be honest it still feels quite unreal and is just beginning to hit me still but a really exciting opportunity especially to be able to learn from such incredible and senior players who have played at the highest level. It is a huge honour and I know it will be a good challenge,” Cunningham concluded.