THE continued improvement in the standard of girls’ schools rugby proved to be the major highlight of the 2018 edition of the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival, a development various stakeholders believe will provide the much-needed boost to the development of ladies’ rugby.
BY ALLAN MIDIWA
Girls’ schools rugby has witnessed a steady growth in popularity since its inclusion at the annual festival seven years ago and this year saw 32 girls’ teams taking part in the week-long event, which ran from April 30 to May 5 at Prince Edward School.
Dairibord Schools Rugby festival director Tawanda Jimu revealed that initially 34 girls’ teams had been expected to participate but two teams withdrew at the eleventh hour.
Various schools such as Queen Elizabeth, Goromonzi, Dzivaresekwa, Mbare, Domboramwari, Sahumani, Muterere and Victoria High, to mention a few, took part in the festival.
Goromonzi, Girls High and Sahumani were able to bring two teams to the festival with Sahumani, who last year had several players selected in the Zimbabwe Under-18 team, even opting to leave their boys’ team behind.
This initiative has drawn positive opinion with many praising the organisers for empowering girls to showcase their talent in the previously male-dominated sport.
Mbare High School girls’ team manager Regina Katambetambe applauded the continued inclusion of girls at the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival saying this encouraged more girls to play the beautiful game of rugby.
“It’s good that this year, the Dairibord co-ordinators gave more girls’ teams an opportunity to play in the popular Jubilee Field unlike in the past where we played in less popular fields and didn’t get any recognition.
“However, I wish the coordinators could also schedule more girls’ rugby matches on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays where there is a generally better turn-out,” said Katambetambe.
Girls High School rugby coach, Pride Biton echoed the same sentiments saying girls’ rugby was as competitive as boys’ rugby and only needed more support.
“Boys’ rugby has a lot more sponsors than girls’ rugby and so Zimbabwe Rugby Union officials need to step in and encourage more sponsors to support girls’ rugby since they are the only ones who have access to the sponsors,” said Biton.
One of the referees, Kudzai Mboma, stressed the need for more coaching clinics for the girls’ teams and for the coaches as well so that they gain in-depth knowledge of rugby rules and regulations.
Female rugby players highlighted some of the ups and downs of playing rugby citing criticism from their male counterparts as a major hindrance to their progress.
“We just need support to show that we are accepted as female rugby players in a society which favours male rugby,” said Tadiwa Kwete, a Goromonzi High player.
“The same support that male rugby gets is also the same kind of support that we need in female rugby,” echoed Tapiwa Mungate, another female player.
“Rugby is quite straining and exciting at the same time. it is a sport I wanted to try ever since primary school because I was always curious to experience how it felt to be tackled,” said Sisa Moyo, a female player from Goromonzi High.
The 32 girls’ teams that took part in the 2018 Dairibord Schools Rugby festival are:
Kuwadzana, Roosevelt, Harare High, Vainona, Girls High (Harare) 1st and 2nd, Goromonzi 1st and 2nd, Sahumani 1st and 2nd, Mufakose, Royal College, Dzivarasekwa 1, George Stark, Hatcliffe, Mother Touch, Seke 2, Queen Elizabeth, Robe College, Victoria High, Dzivaresekwa 2, Glen View 2, Glen Norah, Zengeza 1, Domboramwari, Morgan, Lord Malvern, Glen View 1, Muterere, Mabvuku, Sodbury and Highfield 2.