By Chinedu Nwosu, Special Correspondent
Rugby Africa has strengthened their ongoing support for gender equality by paving the way in women’s sport with the launch of the Women’s Rugby Advisory Committee (WRAC) and sub-committees.
As part of Rugby Africa’s broader strategy, the role of WRAC and its sub committees is to define key performance indicators that demonstrate progress of the development of women in rugby across Africa to promote gender inclusion practices that foster growth and development within the sport.
The committee will provide a platform for females in all spheres of in rugby to be recognised for the crucial value their contribution and participation provides towards shaping the future of the global game.
The four sub-committees will focus on key areas of advancing governance and leadership, competitions, player welfare, development, and retention to meet strategic goals for women’s rugby across Africa by implementing the following objectives with the following chairpersons in charge:
- Chairperson: Zeena Isaacs-Van Tonder who is the Media Manager at South African Rugby Union – Communication, Marketing and Public Relations: to drive the overall communications plan for Rugby Africa to communicate effectively to stakeholders and raise the profile of women’s rugby.
- Chairperson: Regina Hellen Lunyolo who is the Director of Women’s Rugby at Uganda Rugby Union – Leadership, Training & Conferences: to review and track member unions’ Women in Leadership and develop strategies that support their identity, engagement and empowerment through conferences, awards, panel discussions and interviews.
- Chairperson: Anna Preira who is a board member of the Fédération Sénégalaise de Rugby medical committee – on the Player Welfare & Participation: to serve as RA Women’s Rugby grassroots ambassadors fostering participation and support towards local RA activities and initiatives, while leveraging their social media engagement to publicize women’s rugby gains and achievements.
- Chairperson: Aaron Jani who is the President at Zimbabwe Rugby Union – Finance, Development & Competitions: to review available funding from World Rugby, Rugby Africa, and Unions to assess the impact and propose enhanced funding strategies where applicable.
This exciting new step for Rugby Africa confirms its ambition to innovate and invest in creating quality experiences for women in the game of rugby.
Women’s Rugby Advisory Committee Chairwoman Paula Lanco said the Committee is embracing its future to promote and position women in rugby at all levels, equipping them with adequate resources and the support needed to succeed and retain interest from fans and ultimately investors to further enhance the game.
“Our newly launched advisory committee and sub-committees has several Unstoppables and influential union leaders who reflect our values and intent to encourage the global development of women in rugby, giving them equality on and off the field,” said Lanco.
To date the WRAC committee and sub-committees has made significant strides, appointing quality members that are focused on reviewing and implementing finance strategies, leveraging publicity opportunities, and maintaining the overall welfare of players by providing access to trainers, coaches, and educators.
Women’s Rugby Manager at Rugby Africa, Maha Zaoui said the creation of the WRAC and its four sub committees has been instrumental towards building a global vision for women’s rugby in Africa.
“With the impact COVID-19 has placed globally we are able to work with the sub-committees to overcome challenges the pandemic has placed on world sports and identify untapped opportunities,” said Zaoui.
The President of Rugby Africa Khaled Babbou said the formation of WRAC and the sub-committees is a massive step forward in developing leaders in women’s rugby as it aligns with the recent International Women’s Day theme of Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world and our strategic goal for women in rugby.
“The aim is to achieve a minimum representation that includes 30 per cent of women in leadership roles and to have 40 per cent of the registered players to be female by 2025.
“Our goal is to continuously put women at the forefront of our strategic plan and ensure the objectives of each sub-committee serve in the interest of further developing the welfare and retention of female rugby players,” said Babbou.
General Manager at Rugby Africa Coralie van Den Berg testifies that, “the WRAC and creation of its sub-committees will ultimately help increase awareness of women in rugby, attracting more tournaments and partnerships with sponsors, increasing the overall popularity of the game in the continent.”