The Proteas Women have just left to compete in the ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies. Here they will play against Sri Lanka, West Indies, England and Bangladesh. South Africa’s national women’s cricket team is not only flying the flag high for our country, but they are also inspiring a new generation of women and girls.
These female athletes are representing their country at the highest level in a sport that has been traditionally male dominated. As you can imagine they have faced and overcome many challenges to be where they are today. Read my interview with the team to find out more about which role models they had who encouraged them to dream big and what advice they would give to young girls who want to chase their dreams.
You can follow Cricket South Africa on Instagram and Facebook, and also keep an eye on this website to keep up to date with what’s happening with the ICC Women’s World T20. Go and show our Proteas Women your support!
What challenges as a woman did you have to face and overcome to be where you are today?
Proteas captain, Dane’ van Niekerk says: “I started playing cricket with my dad and my brother in our back yard. My dad spotted my talent so he approached my primary school to ask them if I could be on the cricket team. In those days, cricket was only for boys and there were no girls’ teams. They said ‘no’ so my dad took me out of that primary school and put me into one that would let me play. While I was at school, I also played for Pretoria Northerns before becoming one of the first two South African women to be included in the Eastern Province cricket team academy – a male team. The boys wanted to test me all the time, get me out because which boy wants to be beaten by a girl? They were very competitive towards me, but it didn’t bother me.”
Dane’ went on to captain the South African under 19 team when she herself was only sixteen. She made her debut in March 2009, during the World Cup match against the West Indies at Newcastle.
Did you ever think as a young girl growing up that one day you would play for the SA Women’s Cricket team?
Lizelle Lee answers: “No. I honestly thought that I was going to be a hockey player or a teacher. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. If I wasn’t playing cricket I’d probably be a teacher.”
Did you have any role models in your life who encouraged you to dream big and who believed in your dreams? How important was this in achieving your goals?
Shabnim Ismail answers: “My mom is my role model, and so too is my late grandfather. They were at every game, motivating me.”
Opening bowler Shabnim Ismail is ranked as one of the fastest women bowlers in the world. She can bowl at a record speed of 128 km per hour.
As a mom to a young girl it’s so important for me to raise her to believe she can be anything she wants to be, regardless of whether society thinks that’s traditional or not. What advice would you give to moms like me to be that kind of a role model to our daughters and to inspire them to chase their dreams?
Shabnim Ismail answers and her advice is to encourage girls to live their dream: “You need to believe in what you want. Follow your dreams and enjoy what you’re doing. Learn your lessons, commit and behave professionally.”
In today’s world where we are met with such bombardment of gender roles and fitting into boxes what would you say to young girls who want to dream big as you did?
Opening batter Laura Wolvaardt answers: “Enjoy the process of getting better. It’s easy to get frustrated but you have to push through. It’s also important to be well rounded.”
Laura has been accepted into medicine at Stellenbosch University. She matriculated in 2017 with seven distinctions and is one of the youngest squad members. At the age of eleven, she was selected to play for the Western Province U-19 girls’ team. Laura was selected as a Protea in 2016 and during that same year became the youngest centurion, male or female, for South Africa in international cricket.
Thanks to the Proteas Women team for taking the time to answer my questions. Wishing you the best of luck in the ICC Women’s World T20!