Nigeria Women’s cricket: An uplifting and empowering force

Recently Emerging Cricket has been reporting on the exciting developments in Nigeria, including the rebuilding of the University of Lagos cricket ground, the ongoing developments in Kaduna state and the schemes being offered by the Nigerian Cricket Federation to hopeful umpires and coaches. Nigeria Women’s cricket is also on the up, with the national team finding their feet.

Samantha Agazuma displaying the Nigerian national team kit. (Photo: Cricket Nigeria)

Emerging Cricket had the opportunity to talk to Samantha Agazuma, who is Edo State’s captain and the Nigerian Women’s skipper, about her views of what it is like to be involved with cricket in Nigeria.

Agazuma’s journey into the sport started while she was a student at Ambrose Alli University secondary school. She feels that it was her ‘belief, faith, focus and determination’ that enabled her to develop during the early stages of her journey, meeting many others with a love of cricket whilst ensuring that she was able to get the most out of her coaching sessions.

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‘Cricket has afforded me the opportunity to understand perseverance, resilience and the principle of team spirit, which is very important in other aspects of life, (and) it has enabled me to visit states in Nigeria and some countries in Africa, attend trainings/seminars, special events and sports festivals.’

Women’s cricket is currently in a period of growth and transition globally, with education and awareness of the women’s game being a crucial factor.

Agazuma presented the idea that the process of growth women’s cricket is also occurring in the West African country.

‘Cricket is unarguably gaining momentum in Nigeria and this probably stems from the efforts by the federation in generating awareness about it, though more still needs to be done especially as the patriarchal traditional society still limits the ideal role of women in sports.’

Agazuma paints a positive picture on the whole, and with Nigerians looking towards a new liberal future there is the hope that women’s cricket will soon become an accepted norm within all areas and populations within the country.

Cricket has the ability to help breakdown traditionality in Nigeria helping the country into an age of women’s empowerment through giving women a platform to grow both on an individual and collective level.

Women’s empowerment is currently a key target for the current Nigerian government and sports ability to empower women can not be understated, especially during a period of societal transition.

‘Female cricket can definitely be an uplifting and empowering force judging by the impact it has already on its females whether those still in school or working. It’s empowering capacity can easily be seen even in the moulding process not just in the field but in career and as well as other life engaging skills acquisition,’ Agazuma adds.

Based on the players’ views, it is clear that the sport has the potential to aid the development of societal change in the country as cricket has, as Agazuma put, ‘helped elevate the mindset of the females to aim higher and be better’.

For cricket to continue to have a positive effect in the country, there must be an interest from the next generation of Nigerians and when asked if that interest existed Agazuma stated that there is a passion for sport amongst young women. Alongside this, the Nigerian women’s team has been able to achieve the success, which has helped put the cricket team in more conversations than it may have been before. Recent successes include the growth in the level of participation experienced in the northern part of the country and the bilateral series against Rwanda which saw both nations taking turns to host and participation at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe during 2019.

Alongside the importance of interest, there needs to be equal importance given to the awareness of women’s cricket in Nigeria. There may be an interest in the sport amongst a minority of people but without growing awareness participation and development become stunted. Despite being a footballing dominant nation, Agazuma is reflective.

‘Female cricket is gradually established and settling amongst other sports.

‘Awareness is quite fair and progressive with room for improvements.’

Cricket has a high developmental potential in Nigeria, thanks to a combination of factors including the enthusiasm of the public and a determined association, with Agazuma believing that the sport is ‘on the verge of an upward curve’. The enthusiasm to develop women’s cricket has not ceased despite the on-going effects of COVID-19 in the country and the women’s captain says that this is a testament to what is to come.

However, there is also an awareness that neither the players nor the Federation can settle with what has been done. The sport is currently doing its best to stay in the public eye as the national federation, state bodies and players engage with a variety of different media outlets including school magazines in an attempt to grow the game in educational settings. If the game was to cement its place in educational settings across the country, this would help to expand participation and would also turn cricket into a conversation topic amongst the country’s young.

Nigeria Women's
The Nigerian Women’s team celebrating a wicket

‘Female cricket support at the local level is also attaining enviable position (thanks to) efforts from those involved in the game especially at the grassroots levels,’ Agazuma adds.

‘The general acceptability and resourcefulness of the female domestic set up thereby making it more vibrant and goal-oriented.’

Women’s cricket in Nigeria is growing at a rapid rate, but the growth is more than being purely sport-orientated. Instead, cricket has the potential to promote equality and liberation within Nigerian society. Cricket can be more than a sport, its potential just needs to be built upon by a governing body. Do not be surprised to see Nigeria add to their number of appearances at ICC competitions after their debut at the 2020 U19 men’s World Cup.

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