by Philip Richards
Women’s Rugby – a “Try for Change”
In recent years, the game of rugby union is increasingly being embraced and professionalized across the world by women. Led by the Tanzania Rugby Union (TRU), the men’s game in Tanzania has been played and has grown for many years, and now the women of the country want to get in on the act.
The person leading the charge is Fatma El-kindiy who is from Botswana where she contributed to the development of the women’s game there. El-kindiy had originally visited Tanzania to see her mother but relocated permanently in June 2021 and admits she first contacted the Tanzania Rugby Union (TRU) because she “didn’t have anything else to do” when she first arrived.
Back in Botswana she became an advocate for the benefits the oval-ball game could provide young women and girls and helped to devise a programme, ‘A Try for Change’, to help encourage more women and young girls in the country to pick up a rugby ball. The success of the programme contributed to El-kindiy becoming an ‘Unstoppable’ in Botswana, part of a role model campaign by Rugby Africa to fast track women’s rugby across the continent. When she moved to Dar es Salaam she was keen to have a similar impact on female participation in Tanzania. She now has a new goal: to field Tanzania’s first women’s national team, and this year a women’s team has been invited to participate in a Burundi Women’s Day tournament involving 6 nations from East and Central Africa.
The TRU had struggled to grow interest in female participation and so when they received the phone call from El-kindiy, they were only too happy to accept her offer of help. She has since become head of development for women’s rugby and set about increasing opportunities for and interest in women playing the game. One area where interest has ignited is Ukonga, in Illala District of Dar es Salaam Region. There, with the help of coach Denis Lipiki, El-kindiy has found a growing group of women who are keen to learn how to play the game. From an initial squad of 7, there are now training sessions for 25 young women up to three times a week with sessions starting as early as 6am.The majority of these new players are aged between 18 and 20, however, El-kindiy says there is one “determined” squad member who is only 13.
She sees the potential and is confident of attracting players beyond Ukonga, from across Tanzania. Requests have been sent to men’s clubs around the country in the hope that they will continue to offer those women opportunities to play beyond the tournament. Beyond that, El-kindiy is also planning to roll out ‘A Try for Change’ in Tanzania and hopes to convince schools to offer girls an opportunity to play as part of their curriculums. (Women in Rugby https://www.women.rugby/ 10/8/22)
Gabriel Geay, one of the country’s top marathon distance runners, crossed the finish line in a creditable second place at the 126th running of the Boston Marathon in the USA. He clocked a time of 2:06:04 just 10 seconds behind the Kenya winner Evans Chebet who defended his title. Geay was also ahead of Ugandan and twice Olympic Champion Eluid Kipchoge who surprisingly faded in sixth position. President Samia Suluhu Hassan was swift to congratulate the athlete as evidence of the improvement of athletics in the country based upon a history of world class long distance runners. (Daily News)
Football – AFCON Update
After beating their East African opponents by the same score a few days previously at Suez Canal Stadium in Ismailia, Egypt, the national men’s team Taifa Stars conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 to Uganda Cranes at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
The visitors scored a stoppage time winner to make the qualification race for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals even tighter. The result means that both Taifa Stars and Uganda are tied on 4 points in Group F with two matches remaining to play. The Stars welcome Niger early in June in a “must win” encounter for the home side.
This was only the first defeat for Stars Head Coach Adel Amrouche at the helm of the team, and the country still has a chance to qualify for the AFCON finals to be hosted by Ivory Coast. Algeria top the group and have already made it through to the finals in 2024. (Daily News)