Of all the forms through which youthful exuberance and rebellious spirit find expression, the quintessentially English gentleman’s game of cricket probably isn’t the thing that springs to mind. Especially not when the rebellious youths in question are a group of young Maasai warriors from a remote corner of Kenya. Yep, that’s right – Maasai warriors.
Coming from a background with the England cricket team, it might seem that Barney Douglas’ first film is a bit of a personal indulgence – a light-hearted documentary about one of the world’s most unlikely sports teams. It quickly becomes apparent that there’s more going on here.
Interspersing monologues from the Maasai teammates with interviews with girls, who look as though they are barely into double figures, Douglas reveals that the warriors’ aim is to end the practise of female genital mutilation (FGM) that is ingrained in Maasai culture. The cricket team is their way to find a voice and stand up to the elders, for the good of their mothers, sisters and children.The young Maasai have a pretty hard time getting the elders to listen, but an invite to compete in the Last Man Standing Championships, an amateur tournament at Lord’s, begins to change things.
Setting off to London the Maasai Cricket Warriors have yet to face another team, let alone record a win, but the mood is expectant and hopeful. Yet the biggest win for the Maasai team is that their fast bowling on the pitch begins to crack the batsmen’s defence off it, as a genuine dialogue opens up between the Maasai warriors and elders; and therein lies the triumph of Douglas’ film.
Warriors doesn’t overly concern itself with the minutiae of FGM, or any of the socio-political reasons for or against it, it simply illustrates what can be achieved by a few seemingly insignificant actions.The headmaster of the local school comments that if you educate a girl, you educate the world; educate a boy, you educate an individual. It’s a real pleasure to say that in this case the Maasai’s actions firmly disprove the headmaster! The generosity of spirit and determination to make a change demonstrated by these remarkably positive, erudite young men means that their community will benefit for generations to come – regardless of gender.
Warriors probably isn’t going to break any box office records, but it is more than worth a watch. In a world of news broadcasts filled with mass shootings and Channel 4 documentaries about the chap next door turned ‘world’s most wanted’, Warriors provides a glimmer of hope. Hope that if we just talked to each other a little bit more, if we throw cricket balls and not bombs then we might just be able to right a few of the world’s wrongs. Just as long as there’s a break for cucumber sandwiches and a post-match Pimms of course.
Warriors is available on DVD and iTunes from 25 January 2016