Shabnim Ismail is one of the biggest stars of South Africa’s Momentum Proteas national women’s cricket team and the right-arm fast bowler is the Proteas’ leading wicket taker in both the One-Day International and T20 International formats.
As she prepares to play in her landmark 100th One Day International against Pakistan at Hollywoodbets Kingsmead this Saturday, she has more than cricket on her mind as she and the Momentum Proteas dedicate the first ‘Black Day’ One Day International to show their strong support for the fight against Gender-Based Violence in South Africa.
She spoke to IOL Sport in the build-up to this weekend’s significant ‘Black Day’.
As a Momentum Protea and as a strong South African woman and athlete how do you feel about Cricket South Africa and the Momentum Proteas’ powerful stand against Gender-Based violence through the hosting of the Black Day ODI this weekend?
Gender-Based Violence is one of the biggest scourges and black marks in South African society. Our stand as the Momentum Proteas in wearing black in the One Day International against Pakistan, and showing our strong support for the fight against Gender-Based violence, shows that we are determined to stand for what’s right in our country and to strongly condemn violence against and the abuse of women in our country through the hosting of the first Black Day.
The Proteas’ Pink Day has become a major event in creating awareness of breast cancer. Now the Momentum Proteas have your own significant event in Black Day, what are you hoping you can achieve with Black Day in the important fight against Gender-Based violence?
We have seen just how big a role the men’s Proteas’ Pink Day has played in raising awareness around breast cancer. And now for us to mark this first Black Day as women’s national team cricketers – for such an important cause as the fight against Gender-Based Violence – is huge and really special for us. It is a cause that is very close to our hearts, as something that affects so many women in our country and around the world.
The senior members of the Momentum Proteas first discussed choosing Gender-Based Violence as our theme for Black Day and the whole team has rallied behind it. We are very appreciative of Cricket South Africa and Momentum for supporting this initiative. Showing our support through sport with the launch of Black Day during an important One Day International shows how important it is for us to bring attention to the issue not only in our country, but around the world.
It’s a difficult question, but can you tell us whether you or a member of your family or immediate circle has been a victim of Gender-Based violence and is it something you are open to discussing if you are comfortable doing so?
Fortunately, it is not something me or any members of my family has been exposed to, but it is an issue that affects far too many women in our country and around the world, and it has to stop.
Do you have a message for the men who continue to commit Gender-Based violence against the women in our society?
Hundred percent. My unequivocal message is that they have to stop their behaviour and treat women with respect and as equals.
You are in really good form, naturally you are looking to put in a strong performance on this first Black Day international ODI to make the occasion even more significant?
I prepare for every game as if it’s a final, even if it is just a practice game. It is going to be very special for me as it is my 100th One Day International for the Momentum Proteas. I always want to be the Player of the Match in every match, but far more importantly I always want to contribute towards a good team performance overall. On an occasion as significant as the first Black Day, we are determined to mark it with a win.
*The Black Day second One Day International between the Momentum Proteas and Pakistan Women starts at 10am on Saturday 23 January at Hollywoodbets Kingsmead and will be live on Supersport.