Rugby is often played in the wealthy areas outside of Zimbabwe’s major cities. Now the sport has moved into poor areas where young women are playing to escape from poverty and early marriage.
Organizers of the rugby clubs say playing rugby will not ease their economic struggles. But, they hope it can provide a place for young women to go instead of spending time in the streets.
Zimbabwe’s economy is weak. There are fewer jobs than before. And the value of Zimbabwean money is falling fast.
The area of Domboshava is only 27 kilometers from Harare, the capital city. It is a center for the transportation of farm produce like vegetables and fruit. But the area is also a center for sex work where young girls would make as little as two dollars.
Takudzwa Ngirazi coaches the all-female Zimbiru Academy Rugby Club in Domboshava. He said he wanted the girls "to stay away from the streets.”
Caroline Makari is the 46-year-old team manager. She said, “If (the girls) are training four days a week and they have a game on Saturday, it gives them very little time to think about anything else.”
Twenty-year-old Bridget Magasu is one of the players on the Zimbiru team. Most of the young women are from poor families. Many had never touched a rugby ball a few years ago. Now Zimbiru is part of a 15-team league.
Magasu spoke with reporters from Reuters during practice at the Zimbiru Primary School in Domboshava. "Rugby has changed my life because I spend most of my time at the ground. This protects me (from) other social ills like drugs and substance abuse,” she said.
Their training sessions include running, passing and fighting for the ball called a “scrum.”
Since there is little to no financial support for the teams, all of this is done on a limited budget. The girls eat sugarcane for quick energy during training. "Sometimes during our games, we go with no food. Funding bus fares is also hard for us," Ngirazi said.
Four of Zimbiru's players have made it to Zimbabwe’s under-20 and under-18 teams.
I’m Faith Pirlo.