Nkiwane: Cricket's unsung heroine

HARARE - Traditionally, women have been at the peripheral in the world of sports in terms of both  the playing surface and in administration with their male counterparts taking all the glory.

However, for the past decade, women have been gradually climbing up the ladder to the helm of it all and Samu Nkiwane is no exception.

Notable achievements were recorded in Zimbabwean cricket under Nkiwane’s administration proving true to Gandhi’s adage that “in a gentle way, one can shake the world”.

Nkiwane is neither a player nor is she a coach, but she operates behind the scenes as an administrator making sure that everything is running smoothly.

Speaking to Daily News on Sunday, Nkiwane revealed that her career in cricket began 16 years ago when she joined Matabeleland Cricket Association as a secretary.

“I’m passionate about cricket. I have loved the game since the first day I became part of it. I have been in the cricket industry for over 15 years,” she revealed.

Starting off as a cricket secretary, Nkiwane worked her way up to being a provincial administrator for Bulawayo Metropolitan and briefly as provincial manager.

While cricket is associated with masculinity as it is popular among men, Nkiwane is one woman who dared to dive into the game and is determined to leave a mark.

“I joined the industry in 2002 just before the 2003 ICC World Cup which was jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and South Africa and when the franchise system was introduced in 2009, I became the chief operations officer for Tuskers,” she recalls.

Nkiwane then took a brief break from Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) in 2013 when he joined Joseph Rego and Heath Streak to help establish the Heath Streak Cricket Academy where she was an administrator.

“Our primary objective at the academy was to scout for talent and develop young players which we would recommend to Zimbabwe Cricket,” she revealed.

“I’m happy to say of the players which used to come to the academy during my time are now part of the national age-group teams.”

After three years of nurturing upcoming talent, Nkiwane rejoined ZC in 2016 as administrator for Harare Metropolitan Province.

That season, the province franchise, Mash Eagles swept everything on offer after winning the Logan Cup, the Pro50 Championship as well as the domestic T20 title.

“This was the first time any province had won all competitions in the same season; our team of players, technical and a supportive provincial board all contributed to this and I shall forever be grateful for the part they all played,” Nkiwane recalls of that successful season with the Harare Sports Club-based franchise.

After ending her time with the Mash Eagles, Nkiwane then took up a new post within ZC as the women’s cricket coordinator.

It’s an all-encompassing role as she has to go the extra-mile in order to see the smooth running of the women’s game.

“Women’s cricket is not as popular and the player base is low compared to men. Therefore, we have to constantly attract girls to play cricket whereby boys or men’s cricket has an overflow of players,” she revealed.

“Some women can pull out because of marriage, pregnancy or just because the game is not sustaining them enough financially.”

However, she expressed optimism in the development of the women’s game as it has now been widely received in schools while ZC has in recent years increased their investment in the ladies teams.

“I’m happy that government high schools now have leagues for girls as this helps us boost our pool of players. We will also lobby for junior schools to emulate the same,” Nkiwane says.

While cricket has taken most of the time for the mother of two, Nkiwane is also a chairperson of a non-governmental organisation based in rural Gwanda called Wodaz, whose aim is to change lives of a rural girls and women by empowering them to start up livelihood projects.

“We recently commemorated the International Rural Women’s Day on the 15th of October 2018 whereby I went with some members of the women’s national team and we introduced cricket to the young girls of that area,” she says.


 

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