Zimbabwe Women Sables are looking for an industrious start to the 2021 Africa Cup Challenge as they romp up preparations ahead of the scheduled tournament, which takes place in Uganda from 11 to 19 July.
The southern African country has assembled a strong squad and have gathered in the capital, Harare, where a training camp has been organised.
The Women Sables closed out an important friendly warm-up series against fellow-continental contenders Zambia, recently, as the two countries fought it out in the curtain-raising ‘Battle of Zambezi’.
Not merely looking to make up the numbers at the upcoming tournament, the Women Sables has called up a number of emerging talents in the country and abroad, one of which is Tadiwanashe Kwete, a versatile prop/ hooker who plies her trade running out for the Wits University Women’s rugby first team.
The first-year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) student is set to be an integral part of her home nation’s pursuit of glory on the African safari, with the 21-year-old every bit as intent on making a notable impression in national team colours.
“It’s an honour to be recognised and to get the call-up, especially being out of the country,” Kwete told Wits Sport. “I am elated by the call-up [although] I did not expect it … there is new blood coming in and showing off what they can do.
“I felt proud watching them play [in the series against Zambia] but now I am overly excited to be joining them in camp.” The invitation is a testament to hard work, which Kwete believes she was able to put in all throughout training, so far, this year.
The devastating player scores her second senior national team call-up; first featuring for Zimbabwe’s Under-20 side in 2019 in a bilateral series against South Africa before making her senior team debut against Zambia in Lusaka that same year.
“I am looking at bagging more caps and playing my best rugby. I am excited to be joining the ladies in camp and I know it is going be a very technical and clinical camp where we work through our processes,” added a focused Kwete.
“Having played for Wits and learning a few things here, I really want to use that to better my play while also imparting what I have learned here to them, and vice versa.
“At the end of the day, we all understand that it is an uphill task facing Uganda considering the fact that there hasn’t been any rugby in Zimbabwe for close to two years now, because of the pandemic, but exciting times ahead.”
Wits Rugby’s Ferdinand Kelly said the rugby office couldn’t be prouder as Kwete’s beckoning on the continental stage demonstrates a sturdy women’s rugby programme at the institution.
Kelly lauded the strides made by the University to develop a high-performance women’s rugby programme in which female student-athletes can excel.
“We are immensely proud of Tadiwanashe’s achievement. It is purely a result of her commitment to the sport and the hard work she has put in … Our women’s programme is a work in progress and we are gradually making quality strides in the right direction,” the sports officer conceded.
“Earlier this month, Sibongile Mdaki was invited to join the provincial Golden Lions Ladies team, and now, Tadiwanashe has been called up for national duty. The measure of any productive rugby programme is [its ability to] produce provincial or national team players,” he added.
“It is an indication that our coaches and management are doing something correctly and that the program is in good stead. However, it becomes immensely important to make athletes aware of their academic responsibility and to find the balance between sport and their studies.”