The celebrated cricket all-rounder Mike Procter was born in Durban, the largest city of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, in 1946. While Durban is known as Surf City and boasts South Africa’s top surfing spots, the young Mike was drawn to the game of willow on leather.
Mike hailed from a family of cricketers, with his father Woodrow, elder brother Anton and cousin Andrew all being First-Class players in the provinces. At Durban’s Highbury Preparatory School his talent was quickly realised. The acclaimed cricketer went on to become a legendary player that thrilled his fans across the world while also being widely acclaimed by his contemporaries. The veteran sportsman has not only won respect as a player but also as a coach, administrator, commentator, ICC referee and a test selector. His impeccable sportsmanship, passion for his homeland and dedication to developing the nation for the benefit of all its citizens ensures has made this cricket icon a fabulous flag-waver for South Africa around the world.
Since retirement from active work in cricket, Mike has found a valuable way to give back to the great game by establishing a Foundation that offers support to under-privilieged children in his home province. Mike’s Foundation began its activities working with a school in north-west Durban. At a township called Zwelitsha (the ‘new world’ in Zulu), on the bushy hillside, some 20km from his home in Durban North, the sporting star works with senior coach Rocky Mgobhozi and other great volunteers to offer coaching, fun and inspiration through mini-cricket games.
Mike took time out of a fund-raising tour to the United Kingdom to speak to Swahili Coast Foodie about his home city.
Where would you take a first time visitor to Durban?
Obviously to the beach! Durban’s beaches run along the Golden Mile with some of the best stretches of sand in the world.
Where is the best view of Durban?
The Berea, to north side of the city, has the most amazing views. You can see the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Natal, The Bluff, then inland towards Queensborough and Westville, and in the distance the Inanda Plateau and Etafuleni.
Your favourite spot?
Umhlanga Rocks runs along an amazing coastline north of the city. It has beautiful beaches, great places to eat, drink and stay.
Where’s the best place to stay?
The Oyster Box, a boutique hotel on Umhlanga’s beachfront. It’s an outstanding place to stay for a holiday and is in a beautiful setting.
Where would you meet friends for dinner?
The Oyster Box again! It has a restaurant overlooking the ocean, a Grill Room inside, and a great choice of other places to eat and drink.
And for lunch?
Beverly Hills Hotel at Umhlanga is in a fabulous location about twenty minutes from the city. You can eat at The Sugar Club Restaurant that has amazing views of the beaches or The Elements café bar.
What’s the best time to visit?
Not Christmas! That’s the peak holiday season. January to March can be humid. I would suggest the middle of South Africa’s winter. Durban can be cool in the morning but sunny and warm later in the day. June to July is best for me to see the coast, explore the attractions and enjoy the amazing restaurants of this incredible destination.
What inspires your Foundation work in Durban?
Nelson Mandela said ‘Sport has the power to change the world’. He also said, ‘We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in any society, a life free from violence and fear.’
For more information about Durban visit: www.visitdurban.travel
(Opening image is the fully automated Umhlanga Lighthouse. Umhlanga means ‘Place of Reeds’ in the Zulu language. Photo courtesy of The Oyster Box Hotel.)
To support the Mike Procter Foundation contact: firstname.lastname@example.org