BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE women’s cricket captain, Mary-Anne Musonda, is using her influence as one of the country’s leading sportswomen to empower children from disadvantaged backgrounds through a community based educational initiative.
Musonda, who has been the national women’s team captain for the past four years, is one of the most experienced women cricketers in the country having been part of the game for almost two decades.
The 30-year-old batter has represented the country in 21 Women T20is and 8 Women ODIs; and made history last year after she became the first Zimbabwean player to hit a century on debut in the 50 over format.
In addition to being a gifted sportsperson, Musonda has excelled in her academic studies and also boasts of a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Business Finance from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Having risen to become one of the leading figures in the sport, Musonda, in a wide ranging interview with the Australian publication Sportageous revealed how she is working on giving back to the community.
“I am 30 years old, born in Zimbabwe to a Zimbabwean mother and a Zambian father. I have a keen interest in development issues, specifically for girls and women in Africa. I have some academic background in development finance from the University of Cape Town,” Musonda said.
“I am also involved in literacy and numeracy interventions for children in junior schools situated in remote areas of Zimbabwe. This intervention is supposed to teach kids the basic literacy and numeracy skills necessary to manoeuvre life.
“In the future, I hope I’ll be able to merge my cricket experience and such educational interventions. Hopefully this gives generations to follow a good chance of making it in life while also being well rounded and influential individuals in their different spaces,” she said.
The Zimbabwe national women’s cricket team star also reflected on her journey as the Lady Chevrons captain over the last four years.
“Mainly leadership for me has meant making intentional efforts to help the team focus on achieving a given goal in the long run or for a specific task, in a firm but fun way. Learning along the way with a bit of a thrill at times when I’m not sure of what to do is something I’m now comfortable with.
“So maybe the highlight is continuously finding ways of making adequate decisions for the team and for me to be in good positions on field and off-field. Softer skills like communication and understanding individuals are also part of what I’m continuously learning as a leader,” she said.
The former Kwekwe High School student also praised the ICC for the 100% Cricket Female Cricket Initiative, which she feels had gone a long way in promoting women’s cricket.
“I think having launched the 100% cricket initiative; the ICC has made a good first step in making cricket more inclusive for women and girls world over. With a goal to reach one million women and girls involved in cricket, I think there is a lot of potential in communities and schools.
“This is for both member nations and associate nations. Probably focusing more on associate nations will be helpful in growing the game for women and girls as member nations have a better blueprint of methods to reach and spread the game.
“Strategic interventions may be needed to build all-encompassing programmes (i.e playing, administration, governance, media, officiating) that will give women and girls an opportunity to own the narrative of growing and spreading the game the best way they can.
“To sum up, efforts (funding, opportunities, general conversations, talking points, structural changes in organisations) need to be made for women and girls to have an inclination to cricket and feel that it is also a sport for them,” she said.
The ICC have also placed Musonda under the mentorship of former New Zealand former and association footballer Rebecca Rolls.
“I have the privilege of working with Rebecca Rolls at the moment, who is my ICC given mentor. She has worked with me for a couple of months now for everything cricket and not cricket.
“As a woman who played for New Zealand/White Ferns, I am learning about women’s cricket because she has walked the path I am currently walking. It is a huge honour to get a glimpse into her lived experiences in cricket,” Musonda added.