Dressed in flowing red skirts and draped in colorful bead necklaces but otherwise bare bodied, the warriors from the legendary Kenyan tribe of Maasai are one of the world’s most unusual and unlikely cricketing teams.
Dropping their spears in favor of cricket bats and leather balls, this group of youth is trying to promote healthy living within their community, and spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and women’s issues by using sports as the medium.
They call themselves the Maasai Cricket Warriors.
Cricket came to this remote corner of Kenya six years ago entirely because of the efforts and passion of one South African woman, Aliya Bauer, who coaches the Maasai team.
Bauer was sent to Kenya’s Laikipia region to work on a research project about baboons.
Stationed there in the bush, she missed cricket so much that she decided to introduce the game to the local community.
Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling.
Practised in Akhara, the wrestlers, under the supervision of a guru, dedicate their bodies and minds to Kushti on average for 6 to 36 months.
It is a way of life and a spartan existence that requires rigorous discipline.
Kushti is also known as pehlwani. The freestyle matches last about half an hour, and a wrestler typically wins by simultaneously pinning an opponent’s shoulders and hips to the ground.
Experienced wrestlers set the example and transmit their skills in the pit and in the community to the younger boys (7-8 years old) and new recruits, whereby promoting camaraderie, solidarity and fraternity.