As the first women to score a century for her country, Shameelah Mosweu is a rising star who hopes to soon take Botswana’s cricket team to glory.
Zushan Hashmi: How did you come across cricket and get interested in playing the game?
Shameelah Mosweu: I came across cricket through my father. He used to play, and growing up I was always at the cricket grounds with my childhood friends. We used to play tip and run which is how I gained an interest for the game.
You come from a mixed background, has this ever been a challenge for you in terms of how people react/respond to your cricket career? Why/why not?
No, this has never been a challenge. If anything it has helped me because people were always curious. People wonder where Botswana is located, and if the country knows about cricket. Having that kind of energy around me motivated me to be on top of my game so people could get to know me through my cricket. So no, coming from a mixed background has not been a challenge for me thus far.
While you were at university, how did you manage playing for Botswana and studying in the UK?
One of the requirements for my scholarship was to play cricket in the UK whilst studying. With this I was able to gain a lot of cricketing experience, and I would send every scorecard to the Botswana Cricket Association for their records. When it came to international tournaments the association would fly me back with financial assistance from the Botswana National Sports Commission for which I am grateful.
What has been the highlight of your cricketing career and why?
I would say I have two major highlights. The first one was when I scored my first century at home against Swaziland. This is special to me because as mentioned it was my first and I became the first female in Botswana Cricket to score a century.
The second highlight was getting my Elite Sports Scholarship to study in the UK. Since primary school I wanted to get a sports scholarship and go to the UK to study and play cricket. After years of hard work and determination, I managed to achieve my goal.
What do you play as and why do you enjoy it?
My role in the team is a batting all–rounder. I enjoy this role because I can express myself both with bat and ball. I also enjoy this role because if I have a bad day with one section, I still have the chance to contribute more in the other fields of play.
Now that the whole fiasco has died down and time has passed since then, what was going through your mind when your visa was rejected by Australia to play in the FairBreak team?
In the beginning of the whole situation I asked myself “why me? Did I make a mistake in my application?”. So many questions were going through my mind, but I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. It was just really upsetting that they actually did not give me any reason for their decision. But through it all I kept reminding myself that you can only control the controllable and that this was something out of my control. I told myself it wasn’t the end of the world. Thanks are due to Shaun Martyn, the FairBreak team and the Australian Press for making my trip possible.
You dis end up playing and visiting Australia. How important was the support of the amazing FairBreak team, and tell me a little bit about that time?
Their support meant so much to me and till this day I am forever thankful for having them around. They also helped me stay positive through everything as I was quite overwhelmed because this story was also all over the media and social media. Their support also just showed me how much they valued me and I appreciate that so much.
My time in Australia, although it was really short, was amazing. Everyone was so welcoming and the cricket experience was great. It was so good to see familiar faces, meet new people, play against different people, and play in a new country.
I couldn’t thank the FairBreak team and Management enough for helping me and getting me to Australia.
One of the biggest challenges of playing for an associate nation is the lack of funding/support to build a full-time career around it, what else do you do outside of the game?
At the moment my life is just all cricket. Alongside being part of the Botswana Women’s Team, I work part–time with two other part–timers who are also crickets at the Botswana Cricket Association.
How do you think this can change in the case of Botswana?
The situation can change if education and sport are given an equal footing from primary school upwards, as it happens in many of the more developed world.
The women’s game has even less support, if I’m not mistaken, in associate nations. Do you think this is changing, with more coaches and organizations now supporting cricket outside of the “cricket heartlands”? Why/why not?
I do think it is slowly changing. I think the world is starting to see that there is good in women’s cricket and slowly more opportunities are surfacing. For example, our numbers are growing and media houses are starting to take an interest in the women’s section of the game. More females are scouted out from associated countries to take their cricket career to the next level. So yes I think we, in associated countries are slowly getting more support.