FORMER West Indies cricketer Anisa Mohammed is elated that women cricketers will start earning more money as professionals, but does not want the financial reward to be the main reason to play for West Indies, saying representing your region should serve as enough motivation.
On Thursday, Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) signed a new four-year memorandum of understanding (MOU), solidifying their commitment to promoting gender pay equity in West Indies cricket. The MOU outlines plans to achieve parity in international and regional match fees, international captain’s allowances, international team prize money and regional individual prize money for all West Indies cricketers by October 1, 2027.
A CWI media release on January 18 revealed that Mohammed, Shakera Selman and twin sisters Kycia and Kyshona Knight have retired from international cricket. Mohammed, 35, made her debut for West Indies in 2003, at 15.
Mohammed, in an exclusive interview with Newsday on Saturday, in her home town, at the Ojoe Road Recreational Ground in Sangre Grande, discussed the latest development.
"I am very happy to hear that CWI and WIPA have finally decided to go to equal pay.
"We do the same work as the men do, we train just as hard. As a matter of fact, some of the coaches that have worked with the senior men's teams and senior women's teams say they prefer to work with us, because we work harder than the men – but they always get more pay than us."
Mohammed said it is an uphill task for women.
"I think as women athletes, not just cricketers, we struggle a lot in terms of getting funding and being paid to do what we are doing."
But Mohammed does not want the women players to only think about the money, as the pride of representing your region should always be priority.
"Appreciate that you are getting paid more, but don't forgot that your main job is that you are representing your country. Don't let it be about money, but representing your country and the region, putting us on the map."
Mohammed said she would often joke with former West Indies wicket-keeper/batter Merissa Aguilleira, saying they played for fun and now cricketers play for "fund."
Cricket nowadays is played throughout the year, so players spend a lot of time away from family. Mohammed shares a close bond with her family as she has a twin sister, Alisa, and also has twin brothers. Her family often attend matches to support her.
It is difficult, she says, spending time away from family and at least the women cricketers will now be paid more for their sacrifices.
"From my experience we are basically on tour all the time. You have less time at home. The money we were being paid, it is not enough to bring our families with us, so we are away from our family, away from everything, doing what we love to represent this region and not getting the pay that we deserve.
"I am really happy that these younger players would be able to get paid for the hard work they are doing, the sacrifice that they are making. Hopefully it will be easier for them than us having their families there with them."
To witness women getting well paid is something Mohammed might have never dreamt of, as when she began her cricket career there were several obstacles. Mohammed recalled having no gears when she and her twin sister started playing for the national team.
"We were on the national team borrowing gears. Eventually people gave us stuff; so in terms of having funding to buy equipment was challenging. We used to play cricket with our school shoes, and we get home at night we had to wash the shoes for school the next day.
"My parents didn't have a vehicle so we had to travel from Matura (where she previously lived) to Couva to get to training and then travel back. By the time you reach home at night is 10 pm and you have to get up 6pm to go to school the next day."
She said women sacrifice a lot and put family life on the back burner to focus on their sporting career.
"I don't have a family of my own and hopefully now that I'm retired I can start one soon."
She recapped a story of when she started playing cricket as a child with her sister and another girl.
"When we started, the coach (the late David Moffett) had the three girls training at the side with soft balls and we were begging, 'No, we want to go over with the boys'...
"He was like, 'No, it is dangerous, the ball is hard.'
"The boys started laughing at us because they were like, 'Girls coming to bowl at us,' and I remember bowling at one of the guys – I had no idea what I was doing, by the way – and the ball was turning.
"He could not hit it. He started hitting the ball in the air – and the other boys started laughing at him."
Mohammed thanked Moffett for believing in her when she started her cricket journey. She started learning about the fundamentals of spin bowling from him.
"He took the ball and he explained the different grips, (like) off break, leg break, and he was like, 'Go back and try it and see which one you most comfortable with,' and from there I started off breaking bowling. And he helped me in terms of gripping the ball, where you release the ball, different variations.
"That's where it all began for me. Not taking anything away from the other coaches I have had in my career, but most of my basics in my batting, bowling, fielding is because of Mr David Moffett."