Hard tackling Sables Women’s backline player Lindiwe Munerenyu relishes every moment she has worn her Sables jersey and run out to represent the country and says her dream is to qualify with the team for a major international tournament and to grow women’s participation in rugby in Zimbabwe.
The talented Lindiwe chuckles as she looks back at how she was introduced to the game of rugby by her former high school Sports Director and former Zimbabwe Sables Head Coach Cyprian ‘Supa’ Mandenge.
“I was an all-round sportsperson at school as I played almost every sport the school offered. If get some recognition.”
That was when she approached former Old Georgians director of rugby and coach, Grant Mitchell”, with an idea of introducing a lady’s side at the club.
It was great timing as her ideas were aligned to our vision of growth said Mitchell.
‘‘We had just set up our Under-21 structures and we were in the process of developing the lady’s section.
“In January 2018, we had our first intake of ladies and, alongside the rugby club committee, Lindiwe drove the recruitment process to grow the section and her passion to grow ladies’ rugby was evident from the onset”.
“Not only was she a club administrator but she also proved to be a good player.
‘‘Lindiwe was a part of the first ever Old Georgians ladies’ rugby team that played a historic match against Harare Sports Club ladies on Friday 11th May 2018 on a cold winter night under coach, Sykes Sibanda, which was captained by Michelle Chavundura.” Since making her top-flight debut, Munerenyu has also been a key member of the Lady Cheetahs and Lady Sables. She credits her coaches Cyprian Mandenge, Nsikelelo Sibanda, Abigail Kawonza, Tabetha Ntini and Joan Murembwe for her development as a player.
Mandenge had not introduced Girl’s rugby at school, I would played either football or basketball at club level”.
Mandenge introduced girls rugby at Eaglesvale school where Munerenyu was a student and she sought out the talented athletes to join her team and she was one of the few that chose to be the pioneer girls rugby players at Eaglesvale and the country.
The enthusiasm of her coach, ’Supa’ rubbed off on her and her passion for rugby developed and she was drafted into the senior women Sables team to play Zambia and she made her debut at the age of 17. She was also part of the Women’s rugby team that went to Ireland for the World Cup qualifiers.
While most of her teammates at school followed other paths, after school, Munerenyu decided to pursue the sport at university. She enrolled at the Women’s University where she says “I really loved and still love the game but, as a woman, there were few opportunities around and that is why I decided to start my own rugby academy just to play the game.”
The rugby fraternity, much to her surprise, embraced the project.
“I got so much support and I enjoyed it. It was hard at first but, as time moved on. In 2019 she won the Women’s Rugby League’s best back liner Award. She is currently in charge of the Women’s Rugby section at Old Georgians Rugby club. She also is a Women Sables player. She mentors young girls at Old Georgians rugby club and helps them out through career guidance sessions.
To sharpen her administration skills Lindiwe worked for the Zimbabwe Rugby Union for her industrial attachment at varsity. She subsequently worked as the ZRU administrator.
Speaking of her future goals, Lindiwe says “ I would like to play for Women Sables for a few more years and also help identify and nurture more female rugby players through the club rugby system.