After being rejected by boys who were playing cricket on a field, after school, Babalwa Zothe is now a full-time coach at the Gary Kirsten Foundation, coaching around 70 girls. “I was inquisitive and wanted to join in but I received several rejections from the boys because I was a girl,” said Zothe, who was 11 at the time.
Fast forward to today, Zothe’s love of cricket grew and she went on to form an all-girls team. Upon completing her matric, she moved back to her birthplace of Cape Town, studying at Boland College. She put cricket aside for a while, but after completing her studies, she joined the Khayelitsha Cricket Club as a part-time coach.
She has mentored and coached girls from the ages of six to 18, helping to develop a thriving women’s cricket culture in Khayelitsha and believes that cricket has the potential to keep girls engaged in healthy activities and stay safe. Eventually, however, the sports master at her school gave her the opportunity to join the team. “It was a big challenge for me. I was the only girl in an all-boys team. I was kept on my toes and had to learn faster than the boys to keep up,” said the Eastern Cape cricket coach.
Tim Human, General Manager of the Gary Kirsten Foundation, said Zothe is an inspiration to young girls and women. “She has been through a lot, but always has a smile and a positive attitude when it comes to her work. She is developing some talented girl cricketers in our programme and is a leader in women’s cricket in Khayelitsha. It is inspiring for all of us to see her go from strength to strength and drive positive change in her community, using cricket as the catalyst”.