NATIONAL women’s Sevens rugby team coach Abigail Kawonza is confident of achieving their target to become the second-best team on the continent behind neighbours South Africa.
Kawonza, who has been a driving force behind the growth of women’s rugby in the country, was retained as the women’s Sevens coach with Bulawayo-based George Mukorera being appointed the women’s XVs coach.
Affectionately known as the Lady Cheetahs, the national women’s Sevens side is currently ranked fourth on the continent behind neighbours South Africa, while Kenya and Tunisia are second and third respectively.
“The director of rugby (ZRU director of rugby, Brighton Chivandire) has given us a task to become at least second in Africa,” Kawonza, soon after her confirmation as Lady Cheetahs coach on Tuesday, said.
“Right now we are sitting in fourth position. We are grateful for the foundation that has been set, especially in the schools and we are confident that is going to help us achieve that goal.
“Qualifying for Rio 2016 will be a great thing, but just getting the women’s team to be among the top squads in Africa will be an achievement as well.”
After finishing fourth at last year’s Africa Women’s Sevens Rugby tournament, the Lady Cheetahs will be hoping for a better show as this year’s tournament will be the qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Kawonza-coached side will lock horns with South Africa, Kenya, Tunisia, Uganda, Madagascar, Botswana, Senegal, Namibia and Morocco at the regional tournament set for September 26 to 27 in South Africa.
Women’s rugby has grown in popularity as evidenced by the increase in the number of girls taking up the sport at local schools.
Last year, there was an increase in the number of girls’ school teams taking part in competitive tournaments such as the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival in Harare and the National Girls’ Rugby tournament in Bulawayo.