As the Captain of the Maasai Cricket Warriors team I am proud to be associated with the Maasai Cricket Warriors and the Cricket development in our area.
I grew up in the remote rural village of Il Polei, which is located in the Laikipia North area of the Rift Valley in Kenya. As the lastborn child in a family of eleven, which includes 4 brothers and 4 sisters, my parents could not afford to send me to school. As a young boy I grew up herding our family’s goats and sheep. While out in the bush I developed the skills to walk long distances and to protect myself from wild animals including elephants, buffalo, lions and leopards. My only protection to ensure my own safety and that of our livestock was a spear and wisdom on how to handle and approach challenging situations.
I mastered the art of throwing a spear at a very early age and I also became good at throwing stones long distances. The aim of the spear was never to harm or hurt any wildlife, but rather as a protection if ever I had found myself in a one-on-one situation having to fight for my own life. Carrying a spear also offered a sense of security and made me feel much braver.
Whenever I encountered dangerous wildlife my first approach was always to avoid them and to move to safety. If required I chased them away by throwing stones at high speed in their direction. This regular practice of throwing stones allowed me to develop a strong and powerful throwing arm.
By the age of eleven an initiative in our area was started to teach herders and provide them with some education. I was rescued and joined the herder school. The teachers were impressed with my progress and they recommended me to a primary school where I was promoted to Class 3 and I joined formal school, which I successfully completed in 2004. Unfortunately due to poverty and lack of finances my parents were not able to send me to Secondary School. I ended up reverting back to my traditional practices and looked after the family livestock. Now I was bigger and older and I was given the responsibility to look after the cows. This was more challenging than looking after the goats and sheep since the cows require much more food and water is critical for their survival. I regularly wandered long distances with them in the blazing heat in search of grazing and water and at sunset it was common to find shelter under a tree and spend the night under the stars. was through chance and luck that I witnessed some cricket training sessions taking place at my former primary school and after watching curiously I wanted to try it out. I was fascinated by the bowling, and silently I was confident that I could master it especially with my powerful arm and spear-throwing ability. I took up the challenge and gave it a try. After getting a taste of it I now was determined to perfect it and that’s how my interest in the game developed.
Since then I have worked hard to master the basics and it is my wish to improve even more and to become the best. Bowling is my greatest asset and my spear-throwing abilities have ensured that I can deliver a cricket ball with some fast pace on it. I also enjoy batting, but nothing is more frustrating than getting out. As a batsman you only get one chance – one life, but as a bowler I have the opportunity to strike with each ball and if I make an error I have the chance to come back and make up for any mistakes.
In a very short time of participating in cricket I have already managed to learn a lot of new and exciting things and also share them with others.
Through cricket I briefly got back into a classroom, but this time round I was learning about cricket and how to teach and coach the game. These sessions also provided me with my first opportunity to watch television where we watched some videos about cricket. I am proud to say that I successfully completed both the Introductory Cricket Coaching Course and the Level I Cricket Coaching Course. This was the first time in my life that I have ever received a certificate for anything! As a qualified level I Cricket Coach I am now able to share my knowledge and skills with others and teach children and youth in my community how to play this wonderful game.
While I was learning to become a cricket coach the teachers also taught us how to incorporate HIV/Aids awareness into cricket and coaching. I now integrate HIV awareness into cricket. I teach the ABC approach – Abstinence, Be Faithful and Condom Use – just like in cricket, any mistake can “bowl you out” which means that you are out of the game, but in reality it results in loss of life itself. In cricket you need as many runs as you can get, and in life you need as many chances that you can get. AIDS destroys all of this.
Cricket has also taught me a lot about life and how to view life and how to take on challenges in life. When one plays cricket, a small battle takes place on the field, but provided one is smarter than the opposition it is possible to gain the upper hand. I love the fact that the game makes me think a lot and as the captain I always have to be alert and ready with a plan of action.
I am also happy to be a role model in my community where I am actively campaigning against retrogressive and harmful cultural practices such as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and early childhood marriages and fighting for the rights of women in order to eradicate discrimination against women in Maasailand.
Through the cricket programme I have also learnt a lot about Conservation and the importance of protecting our environment to improve everyone’s life and for our future generations.
Cricket and all the associated activities with it has already had a huge impact on my life and it is now my aim to share this with others and to also make a difference in someone else’s life.