The Unsung Heroines of Zimbabwe Rugby
Anne Tendai Butau
BSc Physiotherapy (Hons)
DALF A1 from Alliance Francais
World Rugby Level 2 Medic
Current Masters Healthcare Management candidate
I was introduced to the Rugby sport in 2014 by an old friend Ms Charmaine Chitate, who was then Harare Sports Club Secretary. She invited me to accompany her to watch the games where Harare Sports Club was playing It started with watching a few games for a few weeks then she suggested I volunteer my physiotherapy skills to the team as it would make me learn the game even faster. I initially volunteered to cover their training days and my interest in the game grew until eventually I was asked to cover game days. That was to be beginning of my whirlwind romance with rugby and I have never looked back since.
While working with Harare Sports Club I was invited to be part of the Zimbabwe A men’s team for their tour of Zambia in 2015 by the then Director of Rugby Nsikelelo ‘Coach Sykes’ Sibanda and the CEO Mr Sifiso Made. That was to be my big break into the National Teams medicals team. Since then I have been the physiotherapist for the Zimbabwe Junior Sables and many other teams.
From 2015 to date I have been the physiotherapist for the following teams.
Zimbabwe U14 Junior Sables
Zimbabwe U18 Junior Girls Sables
Zimbabwe Zambezi Cheetahs National Sevens
Working with these teams has allowed me to experience the cultures and experiences of other nations and also share experiences with other physiotherapists involved in the game of rugby. These teams have allowed me to travel to South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Tunisia.
In 2017 I temporarily moved to Swaziland and I worked for the Swaziland Rugby Union and Vondos Rugby Club with Ms Naomi DuPont. Being the only World Rugby certified medic in the country at the time, I had the mammoth task of covering all their league games. I enjoyed working under pressure and sharing my expertise with the players and administrators alike while in Swaziland.
Experiences as a Physio and as a woman have been largely exciting. The sport has exposed me to the diversity of people in the sporting fraternity. Because of the role I play in the team,I have learnt to quickly adapt to the team dynamics. Its not easy being a woman in a predominantly male dominated sport but the interpersonal dynamics at play at the Union and the female influence of the leading women in Zimbabwe rugby such as Margaret ‘Margie’ Gibson, Abigail Mnikwa and Abigail Kawonza has paved the way for generations to come and it has made settling into the various teams both male and female easier. Because of these strong leading women in rugby (Margie Gibson, Abigail Mnikwa, Abigail Kawonza), developing in the sport has been easier.
Rugby could benefit from more involvement of women and this can be achieved through more pro active conscious and deliberate efforts to lure more women to the sport through training and educational programmes from within the schools system. Granted the chance, it is my wish that I attend an educator’s course in order to initiate training sessions.
Opportunities in Rugby, whether they’re on field or administrative, are endless. The passion for the sport will point in the right direction.
Away from the rugby field I am a cricket enthusiast , a football fanatic and motorsport junkie. I have been enjoying the formula 1 races lately particularly because Lewis Hamilton has been doing well 😁 and to top it off he had a Zimbabwean woman as one of his trackside staff.
I am currently studying for a Masters in Healthcare Management to ensure that I’m fully qualified to take care of our talented players both on and off the field of play and a hobby baker as well.