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Tuesday, 21 July 2015 00:00

WARRIORS premieres at Curzon Cinema

WARRIORS, a documentary that follows the progress of a cricket team of Maasai warriors, hosted its gala premiere last Monday evening at a star-studded event at the Soho Curzon Cinema, Shaftesbury Avenue.

The independent film, the executive producer of which is England cricketer James Anderson, tells the story of a cricket team of Maasai warriors in Kenya . Forgoing cricket whites for their traditional dress, WARRIORS follows Sonyanga Ole Ngais, and his eye-catching team of Maasai as they use cricket to raise awareness of social problems in their community of Ilpolei, near Mount Kenya. Over the past few years, Cricket Without Boundaries [“CWB”] have worked extensively with the Warriors, coaching them in cricket and helping them to deliver HIV/Aids awareness messages to the communities.

The Maasai’s largely pastoral communities are male dominated. Education opportunities are minimal, particularly for girls, and HIV/Aids is prevalent in approximately 7% of the population. Job opportunities are almost non-existent with per capita income amongst the lowest in East Africa. Women have few rights and ancient practices such a female genital mutilation (FGM) and early forced marriage are commonplace for girls as young as eight.

In February of this year CWB partnered with the Warriors and FGM Charity 28 Too Many to deliver the first Anti FGM cricket project. We believe that this is the first time sport of any kind has been used to tackle FGM. CWB coaching is featured in the film and reference is made to the FGM project.

warriors2Captain of the Maasai cricket team, Sonyanga Ole Ngais, said:

“In our society, the women or the girls are treated as inferior, and it's no good. That is something we have to change. We are not saying we abandon all our good culture, only the harmful practices such as female genital mutilation. It is very hard to go against the elders, but cricket is giving us that courage, and that confidence. We are very proud of what it means to be Maasai and that is why we play in our traditional robes."

Speaking after the film CWB Operations Manager, Hannah Weaver commented “The film is simply wonderful. It tells the remarkable story of these young men who have made a commitment to speak out on behalf of their mothers, sisters, daughters and to bring to an end this cultural practice so heavily ingrained in their communities. Cricket was the catalyst for this. It was what helped them to find their voices and empower them to stand up and speak out. As part of the team who visited Kenya with the FGM project I was delighted to see so many of our CWB family in the film. We have worked very closely with Barney on this project and the way he has handled this special story should be commended.”

Details of where you can watch the film will be released in the Summer.

WARRIORS director Barney Douglas commented:

“The unique image of a Maasai Warrior playing cricket drew me in to this project, but as filming progressed I realised it was about so much more: gender equality, human rights, the power of sport. It’s a hopeful, inspirational story with a global message - that young people have a role to play in shaping their world, that they have rights, and that they can be leaders, whether it’s in a sports team, a community, or an entire country. For me personally, to be taken into the trust of the families and contributors was a rare privilege and hopefully we’ve done their story, their bravery, and their culture justice.”

James Anderson, England cricketer and WARRIORS executive producer, commented:

“I’ve had so much joy from the game of cricket, so when I first heard about the Maasai team I was fascinated with their story. They walk 15 kilometres just to get to cricket training, past elephants and giraffes. A bit different from my own drive down the M6! In the world of international cricket, it’s easy to forget that sport has the power to inspire change lives, particularly those of young people. I hope WARRIORS shows that.”

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