Zim to host first ever all-fe­male ref­er­eed African tour­ney

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Allen Khumalo Sports Reporter

ZIM­BABWE will be the first na­tion on the con­ti­nent to host an all-fe­male of­fi­ci­ated Rugby Africa Women’s Sev­ens Cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment which will be held at the Po­lice grounds in Harare this week­end.

The Lady Chee­tahs will play host to seven other coun­tries namely South Africa, Sene­gal, Namibia, Zambia, Mada­gas­car, Tu­nisia and Uganda.

Zim­babwe Rugby Union (ZRU) di­rec­tor of rugby Bright Chivandire said the move is meant to en­dorse fe­male of­fi­cials in the game.

“I can con­firm that the Rugby Africa Women’s Sev­ens tour­na­ment will be an all-fe­male of­fi­ci­ated com­pe­ti­tion. This was a de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sion by Rugby Africa to try and pro­mote fe­male of­fi­cials in the game. As a union, we are so proud to be the first coun­try to host an all-fe­male of­fi­ci­ated women’s sev­ens cham­pi­onship.

“We are also proud that as a coun­try we have Pre­cious Pazani who will be of­fi­ci­at­ing as a cen­tre ref­eree dur­ing the tour­na­ment. The host­ing of the tour­na­ment is a huge de­vel­op­ment in Zim­babwe be­cause it sym­bol­ises the evo­lu­tion and physique of the women’s game. It also gives us an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pose qual­ity ladies’ rugby,” said Chivandire.

Zim­babwe has been drawn in Pool A to­gether with South Africa, Sene­gal and Namibia while Mada­gas­car, Tu­nisia, Uganda and Zambia are in Pool B.

Chee­tahs’ man­ager Su­san Ka­mukai said the prepa­ra­tions are go­ing well as ev­ery­body in camp was fo­cused and ex­cited.

“Of course the girls are a lit­tle ner­vous be­cause the com­pe­ti­tion will be tough and the pres­sure of play­ing in front of the home crowd will be too much. We are just go­ing to be at our best and make it a point that even when the tour­na­ment is over, the na­tion will be cheer­ing for us.

“We have re­alised that our per­for­mance in rugby has not been good es­pe­cially in the men’s cat­e­gory who keep drop­ping in the rank­ings. As the Lady Chee­tahs, we will try to main­tain our rank­ings if not im­prove,” said Ka­mukai.

Coach Abi­gail Ka­wonza said they have Un­der-18s as part of the team as they seek to de­velop a squad that will com­pete for the 2020 qual­i­fiers. She also added that de­vel­op­ment in schools has done won­ders in boost­ing the na­tional teams.

“There’s a lot of ex­cite­ment that comes with host­ing a tour­na­ment, play­ing in front of your peers, show­cas­ing de­vel­op­ment in Zim­babwe, your game and tal­ent, but we can­not lose fo­cus on our goals as a team and as a na­tion.

“We have our eyes on devel­op­ing a squad that will com­pete for the 2020 qual­i­fiers. To make sure we can still com­pete at this tour­na­ment and main­tain or go up on the African rank­ings while at the same time devel­op­ing a squad for the fu­ture, we have play­ers from the Un­der-18 squad while main­tain­ing a small core of the ex­pe­ri­enced guys like Char­ity Mu­cu­cuti,” Ka­wonza said.

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