Zimbabwe National Women’s Seven’s side, the Lady Cheetahs, coach Abigail Kawonza has stepped down from her national team coaching post in pursuit of other top portfolios she holds with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union and World Rugby.
Kawonza has led the team in various tournaments such as the Kwese Sevens where the Lady Cheetahs were crowned 2019 Champions. She also helped the team to attain its highest ranking in Africa, reaching the third position after a brilliant run at the Rugby Africa Cup in 2016.
She holds a long list of records breaking new grounds as the first woman in Africa to be appointed as a senior national team coach – this has inspired and opened doors for other women in Africa such as Uganda Sevens head coach Helen Buteme who was appointed in 2009.
Kawonza is also the first woman to be appointed as the president of the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Association and the first Zimbabwean woman to become a World Rugby Citing Official.
Having served Zimbabwe as a national team and Old Hararians Sports Club player, Kawonza says she would like to leave her national team coaching role to concentrate on other portfolios she is handling.
“It was a difficult decision for me especially when you have so much passion for the game. I had decided it was time for me to (go) after the 2018 Africa Cup, I felt I had had a long and great run with the team.
“I have worked with great players and coaches – there is a solid group of girls that will ensure the successful continuation of women’s sevens. As history shows, I will not be able to let go of the team, I will always be available to the players and coaches whenever they need me.
“I can now have time to focus on my citing and my role as president of the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Association, it is a handful, refereeing tends to be worse than dealing with players but I love this job. I have enjoyed my rugby and I am thoroughly enjoying this as well,” said Kawonza.
ZRU Head of Women’s Rugby Abigail Mnikwa applauded the milestones achieved by Kawonza and said she was more than a coach.
“Not only was she a coach but a mentor to the players and other coaches that she took under her wing throughout her tenure as a coach.
“She is not totally leaving us in the rugby circles as she will continue to serve within the rugby community,” said Mnikwa.