"The biggest challenge for women's cricket in Botswana is the lack of parental support. Most of the girls parents’ don't drop them off or watch them play. They ask the girls “why are you playing a male sport? You have domestic tasks to do.”
What is the structure like domestically for women’s cricket?
There is a national team set up and then a cricket grass root program which starts off in primary schools. Regions have development coaches assigned to them to scout out kids.
We also have national age group teams: under 13, under 16 and under 19s. The age groups play in a regional sports tournament called "Bopssa", and each year the tournament is held in a different part of the country. It is from that tournament that we choose players to form the full women’s side.
The majority of the girls in the full women’s national side come from five regions, and we have now been playing together for 10 years. All of us are domestic players and many of the girls are from low income backgrounds. We started playing under 19s together and it is still a very young side - I am the oldest at 25!
With regards to coaching, we have a national head and assistant coach who train with both the men and the women’s team. We are currently trying to find a suitable full-time women’s coach. In the past we had a dedicated under 19s national coach, however he has now been relocated to a different town to build a cricket program there.
Physio/ Strength and Conditioning
We do not have a dedicated team physio, although we get free access to the physio at the National Sports Council. When we go on tour we have a dedicated physio who comes with us. We also do not yet have an established Strength & Conditioning program, although we do some strength work before the start of each session.
In Botswana nobody is paid to play. The only financial incentive is from the National Sports Council which gives any team that represents the country an appearance fee.
What is the next big tournament for Botswana, and how are you feeling about it?
The next big tournament is the October World Cup Qualifiers (Africa Region). The board are trying to figure out whether we can play in any international tournaments before that. In all honesty I am feeling a bit nervous! We will be playing against new teams that we haven’t played against before. I know a few players from the other nations and looking at the squads I think that Botswana will be the youngest team there.
What preparation are the Botswana team doing?
We are back in training now after a break during covid. We have four training days a week for two hours each session, and we get smaller numbers during the week. We haven’t played any games yet, although season usually starts from the middle of January until the beginning of December. There isn’t really an off season! . The plan is to start getting girls playing some cricket in the next couple of weeks, although it will be covid-dependent.
What is your cricketing background?
My dad played cricket when he was younger and is now the CEO of the Botswana Cricket Association. I used to play backyard cricket with my dad and my younger brother. Because I played with the guys, they started noticing that I had the basics down and that I was pretty good. I started training with the guys at the age of 9. I tried to take it seriously from then onwards but I stopped at the age of 10-11 for 2 years. I then got back into cricket when I was 13 and haven’t stopped since.
When I was growing up, if you were female and wanted to play you would have to play with the men’s team. Our government schools would have regional tournament for the under 13s and there were quite a few girls playing with the boys, around two to three girls in each school. The Botswana Cricket Association basically picked out those two or three girls per team and started a women’s team in around 2007/2008.
What are the challenges for Botwana women's cricket?
The biggest challenge is parental support. Most of the girls parents’ don't drop them off or watch them play. They ask the girls “why are you playing a male sport? You have domestic tasks to do.” Parental support is a major problem and most parents don’t know much about cricket.
The second problem is trying to find a balance between the girls’ studies and playing cricket. On Saturday mornings the girls are supposed to study, and we don’t want to pull them out to play cricket because we understand that studies are important.
My parents are supportive as they both come from a sporting background, however I really do feel for the girls in my team whose parents come from a different background.
What else do you do besides playing cricket?
I just graduated having done a degree in Sports Studies in the UK, and I have now moved back home. As my dad works at the association, I have started helping him out. Most days I will train and then sit in the office with him learning about the association and the programmes that they have in place. At least one weekend each month I try to go out and scout for new girls to join the national set up. I also try and help motivate the girls and encourage them to continue playing cricket and training hard, despite their challenging backgrounds.
What’s your favourite thing about playing cricket?
I love how in cricket you are able to express yourself, and you can play how you want to play. If something works then you don’t change it. You also have a lot of flexibility to come up with your own style.
Do you have any funny memories?
I remember flying to Tanzania, and on one of the flights there was a cute guy- all of the girls were raving about him. We all fell asleep, and then three of the girls wrote a note on a napkin and told me that it was from the cute guy. I said that I didn't believe them, but they were so convincing that I started to, and I freaked out when he walked past me in the aisle. It was hilarious and the memory will always stand out - it’s just a classic example of the girls being silly, playing pranks and having fun.