Patricia Kambarami is a quiet campaigner: All through her career, she has managed to notch up impressive wins for South African cricket, while keeping a low profile.
All that changed in 2015, when she beat off Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates powerhouses, Jessica Motaung and Thandi Merafe to win the coveted gsport Woman of the Year award for her outstanding work as Chief Operating Officer of Titans Cricket.
Fast forward to 2019 and Kambarami is still blazing away, only this time her energies are focused on uplifting African cricket.
In 2017, after many years moving up the ladder at Titans Cricket, Kambarami left the comfort of her job to explore a new role as ICC Development Manager for Africa Cricket. Two years into the job, and she has agreed to share her journey so far in her ICC role.
She speaks of how she dreams of seeing Africa reach its target of two million cricket participants, with the majority being women.
Kambarami regards Rwanda as a success story for African women’s cricket development after the country won Best Women’s Initiative of the Year and Spirit of Cricket, at the 2018 ICC Development Awards.
She says she wants to see women’s cricket in Africa grow at a faster pace than the men’s game.
Patricia, how would you describe the last four years since you won the gsport Woman of the Year Award?
Firstly, cliché as it may sound but, in all honesty, I do not know where the time has gone.
At the time of winning the award I was the Chief Operating Officer at Titans Cricket. A position I treasured and shared many joyous moments – what with the Titans flying the sky-blue flag so high – winning trophies galore! During my time we won the Cricket South Africa award for being the best administered Union for three years in a row.
That success has continued.
We did so much in terms of growing the game and the commercial side of the business. I do not believe that we would have achieved the success without the guidance of Dr. Jacques Faul, the CEO.
In 2017, I was appointed as the International Cricket Council (ICC) Regional Development Manager, in charge of Associate Cricket in Africa.
What did the gsport Award mean to you, and how have you grown in sports administration since then?
Totally humbled by the award. Prior to receiving the award, I had always gone about my business quietly and succeeded.
This role requires my being in the forefront on many occasions – steering the ship.
I have learnt to adapt to non-traditional aspects of the business, and build partnerships with the members in order to effect change within the continent.
What does your role entail as ICC Development Manager, Africa?
There are 20 associate members in Africa. My role is to implement the strategic objectives of the ICC Development Programme – which focuses on growing the participation, creating competitive teams and making the sport more accessible on the continent.
I have a team on the continent, and we work with the associate members to build an effective training and education workforce in order to increase the number of coaches and umpires.
How long have you been in the role, and what have you achieved to date?
It’s been two years and I believe that we are on course in terms of achieving our goal of increasing participation and competitiveness on the continent.
In terms of the access – we were able to take the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy to Rwanda and Nigeria – a first for the ICC.
These stops were to empower the associate member boards to take cricket to the next level and show that we are making progress on the region.
How would you describe this experience compared to your role at the Titans?
Winning, Dynamic Titans! When I took up this role (ICC) I declared: “No more would Africa lag behind.”
The feeling and joy of winning is special. I may not have experienced that yet, but my dream is to see one of the associate members from Africa participating in the latter stages of an ICC event – we have some good players in the u19 tournament.
I am keen to see Africa achieve the target of two million participants, with the majority being women.
What lessons have you taken from your previous cricket administration experience into this role?
The role requires much mentoring. It is not a One-Size-Fits-All, but using a model that has worked elsewhere is certain to work for us too.
I enjoy sharing insights with up-and-coming sports administrators, both men and women.
How would you describe the state of women’s cricket in Africa at present?
There has been some progress in the last few years – so I would say a healthy state indeed. On the competitions other than the ICC events, Botswana Cricket Association hosts the annual 8 nations tournament during the past eight years.
On the development side, we have members such as Nigeria in particular, Mozambique and Rwanda to name but a few, who are doing very well … spreading the game in their respective provinces.
Which country, aside from South Africa, leads the way in terms of women’s cricket development?
I would not want to single out one country as no doubt the leaders of the pack are Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda … All by sheer number of teams in the respective countries.
What does South Africa do to assist Africa in terms of Africa’s women’s cricket development?
I could not have asked for a better partner than Cricket South Africa. The support we have managed to engender from CSA is impressive.
Our members can send players to train in South Africa. CSA provides guidance in the setting up of systems and structures within the region.
Which country do you regard as the greatest success story in Africa, in terms of women’s cricket development over the past few years?
The story of women’s cricket in Rwanda is a remarkable one. When one considers what has happened in that country one cannot help but share their joy in terms of the development of the women’s game.
Rwanda won awards in two categories of the 2018 ICC Development Awards: Best Women’s Initiative of the Year and the Spirit of Cricket.
Sierra Leone is a close second – runners up to Namibia in the Botswana Cricket Association tournament held in August.
What are your aspirations regarding women’s cricket development in Africa?
To grow at a higher pace than the men’s game. This is not to compete with the men, but we have seen how keen the girls are at a very young age.
I have witnessed many clinics in the region – saddened that it is always the same issue – insufficient equipment to grow the game. In addition to what the ICC provides, it is also my hope to get additional support in that area. In May this year, we will host an ICC qualifier in Zimbabwe – when 9 African nations will compete for a place in the ICC Women’s World T20.
What is your advice to women making their way in sports administration?
I would like to see more women play leadership roles in sports. Officiating, facilitators -– currently only South Africa has umpires and facilitators at a high level. There are opportunities in the broadcast industries where women can play anchor roles.
What has been the greatest career highlight to date?
In 2018 I was asked to be part of the ICC Strategic Working Group. In addition, the delivery of a series of high-quality ICC qualifier events on the continent which lead up to the ICC World Cup final events for men and women.
Photo 1 caption: Four years after winning the gsport Woman of the Year Award, Patricia Kambarami is charting a new way forward for African women’s cricket. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 caption: When she was appointed to head development in Africa, Kambarami’s dream to advance representivity inspired her: ‘When I took up this role I declared: “No more would Africa lag behind.”’ Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 caption: Winner of the 2015 gsport Woman of the Year Award, Kambarami holds dear the development of women’s participation in cricket: “I am keen to see Africa achieve the target of two million participants, with the majority being women.” Photo: Supplied
Photo 4 caption: Credit where it is due, Kambarami is quick to laud Cricket South Africa’ for its role in assisting the development of women’s cricket in Africa: “I could not have asked for a better partner than Cricket South Africa.” Photo: Supplied
Photo 5 caption: Kambarami names Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Namibia as an African forerunners for women’s cricket, with Rwanda’s success reflected in the country winning the Best Women’s Initiative of the Year and the Spirit of Cricket awards at the 2018 ICC Development Awards. Photo: Supplied