Empowering girls against violence with rugby skills

Following a spate of gender-based violence in the country, Umzuvukile Sport Development yesterday hosted a day of women’s celebrations rugby in Mdantsane.

BUILDING UP: Premier of the Eastern Cape, Phumulo Masualle, visited Umzuvukile Sport Development Women’s celebrations event in Mdantsane yesterday, where about 900 young girls played rugby as part of a gender-based anti-violence programme Picture: RANDELL ROSKRUGE

In light of Women’s Month, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle attended the event hosted for about 900 young girls from 25 junior schools and four high schools in the area.

Masualle said empowering women at a young age was important to ensure that violence against women could stop.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch, he attributed sport as a fundamental skill in achieving this narrative and developing a culture of protecting women.

“I find this very encouraging. Sports development is a critical element of social mobilisation and social cohesion. Today especially, looking at young girls and rugby, it is something we are seeing emerge among women, which is a good thing.

“It needs to be supported and I will see to it that we continue to support this, but of course other departments need to come on board as well.

“We must find a nurturing way to hone in on these young girls’ talents,” Masualle said.

He said focusing on young women in sport came at the most appropriate time, as gender-based violence incidents were coming to light that targeted young women.

“The community needs to come together and look after these girls and, through sport, I am sure we can build up the necessary confidence,” he said.

Masualle said to properly hone in on the talent in the area involving other sporting codes would be of “utmost importance”.

“I’ve seen other young girls experimenting with sports like judo, karate and all those self-defence skills, which is an important skill to have in protecting themselves.”

While the event focused on teaching a culture of anti-violence against women in Mdantsane, Umzuvukile Sport Development director Mzuvukile Tempi said they hoped to roll the programme out to the entire region.

“We need to work together to provide support to women, children and men affected by sexual violence.

“We need to create a counter-culture in which the dignity of each person is seen and honoured.

“With the premier on board we are hopeful that we can spread this programme out to reach more young girls,” he said.

Tempi, who worked at Border Rugby for 13 years, said when they started the programme two years ago they had only 18 schools in the area.

The girls, aged between 7 and 10, played against each other at the NU1 Stadium.

Zukisa Primary School rugby coach Vuyisa Mfazo, 36, said teaching young girls discipline is an important life skill.

“They develop ball skills and are able to apply basic skills like discipline, which sport teaches you, and prepare these girls for a life after school as well.” — oreillya@tisoblackstar.co.za

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