The Maasai Cricket Warriors from Laikipia Maasai in Kenya are using their love for the game to convey messages and awareness against social injustices in their community.
They are actively campaigning against degenerating and destructive cultural practices such as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and early childhood marriages, which are vigorously donating to the spread and increase in the cases of HIV/AIDS.
The warriors use cricket to empower girls and woman, target substance and alcohol abuse, animal poaching and strive to build peace amongst communities.
Maasai tribesmen took up cricket in 2009 and soon attracted a great deal of media attention. The team was invited to Cape Town for the Last Man Stands championship in 2012, played a tournament at Lord’s the following year and were the subject of a documentary in 2015.
The sport was introduced by Aliya Bauer, a South African woman conducting research in the area who was missing the sport she loved. She brought over some equipment from her home country and started teaching the locals to play.
Team captain Sonyanga Ole Ng’ais said the sport came naturally to him and his fellow Maasai warriors.
He said: ‘Bowling, it wasn’t hard for us. I can relate it to the cultural way, the Maasai way, the way we throw the spear. We are pastoralists, we keep animals and sometimes you encounter a wild animal, so if you throw the spear trying to protect yourself from the wild animal, then that’s just (like) bowling.’