Nokutenda Chiyangwa Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Rugby Union women’s boss Abigail Mnikwa has hailed Aaron Jani’s leadership for the efforts the ex-Sables international is making in reviving the females’ game in the country.
Jani’s board have intensified their search for sponsorship for women’s rugby after noting that it was being pegged back from reaching its full potential largely by financial constraints.
Yet the women have strong potential to also fly the Zimbabwean flag at such big tournaments such as the World Cup.
Mnikwa noted that since 2001, the women’s game has also not received adequate attention, with a lot of focus being put on the men.
But Jani has refreshingly made it one of his major priorities to try and turn things around and Mnikwa acknowledged the effort.
“I would like to commend the board for the effort they are making in trying to engage and bring in new sponsors to the teams.
“Our teams need exposure and for that to happen, they need money.
“Usually when there are financial constraints, especially at club level, the money is directed towards the men’s rugby teams because that is what people are used to.
“In terms of growing, we could definitely be better, but so far we have done really well seeing as we have managed to play from January to December before.
“We, however, need to do more and we are in the process of acquiring sponsors so we can grow.
“Our Sevens team is growing, but the girls need sponsors. They also need to be exposed to teams that are outside Africa as most countries that we go against would have had that exposure already, which is a bit of a disadvantage.
“We only have one tournament all year round and we need to have more which needs more money, therefore, we need more sponsors,” said Mnikwa.
Mnikwa said the ZRU were now working on arranging more tournaments in order to afford the players more game time and exposure.
“We are hoping to have more tournaments as the year progresses, in fact we are announcing news about one in a couple of days . . . we still have not finalised the details of the tournament.
“We will be expecting a few teams from outside the country, but we are not yet sure how many there will be and from which countries,” she said.
The women’s rugby team is also hoping to be a part of the teams that will be chosen to take part in the 2021 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
“On the issue of whether or not we are going to take part in the 2021 Women’s World Cup qualifiers, I cannot comment much, but we do want to have the opportunity to take part.
“The decision is up to Rugby Africa. We have played teams from Botswana and Zambia so far and we are expecting to play Uganda soon,” Mnikwa said.