Women’s Rugby 7s Project Launched in Mulanje
Africathletics, an international NGO, in collaboration with the Mulanje Sports Club has launched a women’s rugby 7s project in Mulanje. The project is targeting girls aged between 11 and 14.
The sport according to Africathletics Representative, Lea Simonini helps to build the body, psychosocial confidence, self-esteem and offer safe space to girls who are at risk of early marriages and pregnancies.
She said tackling gender inequality through sports is powerful way to inspire and empower girls and break down gender barriers.
“All these aspects are of great importance considering that ranks at the very end of United Nations Gender Inequality Index and it has one of the highest rates of child marriages with 42% of girls marrying before the age of 18 according to UNICEF,” said Lea.
Lea who is an Italian said it has also been observed that 64% of girls quit sport at the age of 17 and 80% do not participate in any sporting discipline proving that sport is a male dominated activity.
From January 2023, a team of 21 girls which formed the Mulanje rugby team called, the Sapitwas, has been training at the Mulanje Sports Club with local coaches.
Other Africathletics’ activities are being implemented in Monkey bay and Mulanje and track and field sessions are carried by the trained local coaches.
The organization also provides scholarships to 12 to 15 girls children based on academic and athletic merits.
“The scholarship holders are offered additional support in the areas of education and nutrition which allows to attend extra Mathematics and English and receive a nutritious meal every day.
On Thursday, Africathletics organized a rugby tournament and three teams, the host the Sapitwas, Blantyre rugby team and the Ants from Luchenza participated.
The Sapitwas won the tournament and was awarded with assorted sports items.
“These two weeks of intensive training wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Mulanje Sports Club, which provides a safe and inclusive space for both the team and Africathletics international volunteers,” said Lea.
Coach for the Sapitwas Esmy Besten told Zodiak Online that hard work and adequate training heped the team to win the tournament.
“We will continue to train, improve, and develop new skills chasing our dream to become part of the under 18 national rugby team,” said Esmy.
According to Lea, from September 2023 onwards, education will become next fundamental pillar of the project and the Sapitwas will have access to a new library at the Mulanje Sports Club offering classes of Mathematics, English, and Computer Science.