Daniel Ole Mamai (L) of the Maasai Cricket Warriors and his teammate Christopher Ole Ngais run between the wicket against the Jafferys team during their friendly match in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, March 17, 2012. The Maasai Cricket Warriors are role models in their communities where they actively campaign against retrogressive and harmful cultural practices, such as female genital mutilation and early childhood marriages, while fighting to eradicate discrimination against women in Maasailand. Through cricket, they hope to promote healthier lifestyles and to also spread awareness about HIV/AIDS amongst youth. They have been invited to play in the Last Man Stands Twenty20 Championship in Cape Town, South Africa but are doubtful of their participation due to lack of sponsorships. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: SPORT CRICKET HEALTH SOCIETY)

THE Warriors and Lions are familiar to cricket watchers the world over.

But not many are aware of a bunch of real-life lion-hunting warriors swopping spear and shield for willow and leather. And the Maasai Cricket Warriors from the Laikipia region in Kenya have been using their spear-throwing to help them learn how to bowl and their shield-wielding to hone their batting.

On their website, the warriors said: “The team consists of 11 men (plus another 14 reserve) – each one striving to be a role model in his community. And his strategy to gain favour? Not by earning lots of money or through link-ups with supermodels or picking fights at night clubs, but by campaigning against traditional female circumcision (FGM), child marriages and HIV/Aids among tribal youth.”

Kenya has a national cricket team but the sport, introduced during colonial rule, is played only in the east African country’s largest cities.

It took a South African, Aliya Bauer, to introduce the game to schoolchildren in the village of Il Polei five years ago.

Maasai warriors regularly passing by the village took an interest and now they have come to love the game – one warrior apparently has no problem walking 16km to attend practice.

Bauer, who has lived in Kenya for more than seven years, got bats, balls, gloves and pads donated. She said the Maasai’s ability with the spear had turned them into very good bowlers. She is the team’s full-time coach.

Twelve of the players have been in Mombasa since late January on a two-month training course at the Nursery of Cricket Legends, an academy opened by former national players.

Now the warriors have set their sights on coming to Cape Town to take part in the Last Man Stands World Championships, an annual amateur international tournament from March 31 to April 7.

It consists of amateur teams (eight a side) from around the world playing several T20 group matches, followed by a knockout stage and a final. – Staff Writer