March 2021 will go down as a memorable month for Zimbabwe’s Abigail Mnikwa, who celebrated International Women’s Day with the news that she was one of two Africans named among 12 recipients for this year’s World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships.
Boasting 14 years of experience in rugby, as a physiotherapist and sports administrator, with her decorated career seeing her serve on the Zimbabwe Rugby Union board, as Zimbabwe’s women’s rugby chairperson, chair of the union’s Covid-19 Relief Committee and a World Rugby medical trainer, Mnikwa is Rugby Africa’s Women in Leadership for the month of April.
The dynamic Mnikwa took time out from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her rugby career.
- Describe what being one of only 12 recipients worldwide for this year’s World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship programme means to you?
It is an absolute honour and privilege to be one of this select group of women.
- Do you have an initial vision of what you would like to achieve in women’s rugby in Africa going forward following your selection for the programme?
My main vision is to play a role in assisting in development of women leaders in rugby. My hope is to do this through establishing workshops and seminars that are specific to rugby.
- How did you get into rugby – explain your journey to this point?
I first got involved in rugby as a physiotherapist for the Under-19 national team in 2006 and I progressed to working with the senior team. In 2010 – after completing the Advanced Sports Management Course – I got involved in rugby at an administrative level, at provincial level initially.
Here is a summary of my involvement in rugby:
- 2006 – 2018: Physiotherapist for various national teams.
- 2010: Voted secretary of the Harare Provincial Rugby Board, and, in turn, I served as secretary for the rugby league.
- 2011: Voted as a Zimbabwe Women’s rugby committee member – responsible for grassroots. development, spearheading the birth of the girls rugby schools league, and negotiating for the inclusion in national tournaments.
- 2013: Appointed as interim Chairman for the Women’s Rugby Committee.
- 2013: One of the first women in the world to attain Advanced Immediate Care in Rugby certification in Dublin, Ireland.
- 2015: Certified World Rugby Medical educator.
- 2016 – to date: Chairman of Women’s rugby committee.
- 2018: Certified World Rugby Medical Trainer, which involved working closely with the regional trainer and assisting in the roll-out of courses in Zimbabwe and other African countries.
- 2019: Involved with the Zimbabwe Women’s 7s talent identification program around the country, which championed for inclusion of all provinces in the rugby development program.
- 2019 – 2020: Assisting the women’s national teams source funds and securing sponsorship from various organizations.
- What do you love most about the positions you occupy in rugby?
I love being part of something that is so much bigger than I am.
Rugby is more than a sport, it’s a culture, and its core values assists in the development of better individuals on and off the field.
- Who are your role models?
My role models are my parents. They have been a great example and they taught me the value of hard work and perseverance.
- What advice would you give to women and young girls who aspire to follow in your footsteps in rugby in future?
Follow your passion, be true to your principles and don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone.