Harare – For Zimbabwe Women’s Rugby chairperson Abigail Mnikwa, there couldn’t have been a better present for this year’s International Women’s Day than to be selected as one of the first two recipients of the World Rugby 2021 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships.
The 44-year-old physiotherapist was in February appointed to Rugby Africa’s women rugby advisory committee’s subcommittee on leadership, training and conferences.
She told The Southern Times Sport that to be selected as one of the two African recipients of the executive scholarships was an honour.
Mnikwa has spent the last 25 years rising from being a physiotherapist to heading Zimbabwe Women’s Rugby and becoming a board member of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union.
“I first got involved in rugby in 2006 as physiotherapist to the Under-19 national team, and just took off from there. To be honest, I never envisioned I would ever get into an administrative position, it literally found me,” said Mnikwa.
She got the chance to enter mainstream administration when she was nominated to represent Zimbabwe at the International Olympic Academy in 2010.
“In 2010 I was nominated to represent Zimbabwe at the Young Participants International Forum at the International Olympic Academy. It was during the same year that I studied for the Advanced Sports Management Course (with the Zimbabwe Olympics Committee). It was after this that I got involved in sports administration within the rugby fraternity starting at provincial level,” said Mnikwa.
She said she enjoyed the dual roles of administrator and physiotherapist.
“I am passionate about both hence why I’m involved in both. I enjoy the different challenges that both bring. Both are about being part of something bigger than yourself and that’s the athlete and the sport itself.
“When I’m working as a physiotherapist, it’s about their physical wellbeing and when I’m working as an administrator it’s about the growth of the game and policy development.”
Mnikwa was appointed to the Rugby Africa subcommittee along with her namesake, Abigail Kaonza.
“I am friends with Kawonza; actually she is the one who got me involved in women’s rugby. I was initially working mostly in men’s rugby when she asked if I would be willing to work with in women’s rugby as it was short of administrators.”
She said their elevation to continental rugby administration was an exciting time for women’s rugby in Zimbabwe.
“I hope we inspire other women to get involved in rugby,” Mnikwa said.