This may or may not come as a shock to you, but fact is, it is the women’s national rugby team not the men’s team that has ever qualified for the rugby world cup. In 2009, the team qualified for the IRB Women’s 7s World Cup in Dubai and played against New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Brazil. Well, they didn’t win any of the games but it was a feat making it to the competition, something the men have not managed to do yet.
Women’s rugby in Uganda isn’t yet making grand headlines. In fact, many successful women’s rugby players bemoan the little involvement of Uganda Rugby Union in lifting the standards of the game. Corporate sponsorship is something that is a long shot given that the companies rather support something with short term dividends rather than a sport coming up.
The women and the girls that play rugby in Uganda love the sport. It is a lot of fun for them! Despite it being called a man’s game, it would surprise you that there are about 2000 girls playing rugby in Uganda. Even if it is fun, it is pretty tough being a female rugby player in Uganda, as tough as playing the game is.
A lot of the girls that play the game are not rugby players’ girlfriends or wives or….well you get the point. They are usually girls who have found a sport they love and can take to to tackle life’s immense problems. They are not alone. Rugby Tackling Life is an NGO that aims at helping the girls tackle life. In places like Zinga island where you find about 10,000 people, 2 health clinics, 2 primary schools, no electricity or water, the prospects of life for girls are usually limited to making due with what is available, having as many children as possible and staying alive. Rugby comes to them as something that can put a smile on their faces, and in this case, rugby in the form of Rugby Tackling Life, chooses to do more for the girls.
“I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us, I want them to support what we are doing”.
Anne of Rugby Tackling Life says.
The NGO provides a medium where they can train, teach and empower the girls they come in touch with. “It’s about having found a tool where we can go out and teach girls stuff.” Life can be more for the girls, like giving them power over their own bodies, the ability to say no to their men because they can wait, plan better rather than being slaves of expectations.
What Rugby Tackling Life has gone ahead to do is partner with Great Lakes Coffee, a Ugandan roaster which very much believes that when you involve women in the production process, there are greater benefits for families and communities. They have a coffee which is called “Cooffeee”. It is no typo. Think of it as a shout for coffee when your energy goes low.
This is what happens when you buy this coffee. A portion of the money you pay goes into efforts building Uganda Women’s rugby. It is a product that enjoys you to enjoy your coffee while support and empower women and girls and rugby at the same time. At the end of the day, the girls, the women do not want you to pity them, they ask you support them. It is not an “us” vs “them” game, it’s about mutual strength.
I met some of the girls at the recent Elgon Cup at Kyadondo and I could tell they were not about that pity life but about strengthening themselves and taking it on. Maybe you met one or two in the red shirts selling you the coffee. This is a dare for those who take women empowerment at heart and are rugby lovers (or not); come out to the games, buy some coffee, say hello and encourage the girls.
COOFFEEE is available in Entebbe at Anna’s Corner, Boma Guest House and Air Serv Cafe in Entebbe and in Kampala at, Dancing Cup, Kahawa and through Hellofood.