The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) in conjunction with the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) hosted 30 women from various sporting associations for a leadership workshop in Harare. Women in administrative roles from various sporting disciplines including karate, shooting, netball, triathlon, table tennis, rugby convened to map their journey towards running for elections in leadership positions in sport.
The meeting identified the challenges women face in their efforts to take up decision-making positions in sport. Most importantly it drew up ways to counter these hurdles so as to rise to the top and contribute in the development of the country through sport.
Cultural expectations and norms have left positions, both in the private and public sector exclusive to male leadership especially in sports traditionally considered as masculine like football, rugby and cricket. Some barriers, however, were identified as self-initiated during the meeting. These include women’s own inferiority complex and low self-esteem. It was noted that women are at times reluctant to embark on the necessary research and training needed as requirements of becoming leaders in this sector.
Speakers at the forum included sports administration giants like ZOC Chief Executive Officer, Anna Mguni and Vice President Busi Chindove, ZOC Women in Sport Commission chairperson, Letitia Chipandu, and renowned sports administrator Kathy Lobb. They have walked the talk, rising from being coaches in the sporting field barking instruction from the technical bench to making decisions in the boardroom.
Busi Chindove’s presentation was quite the take back for most women as she took the women through the steps to preparing for elections in sports administration. These steps, as she articulated are
- Being prepared for elections; understanding the skills needed and networking.
- Being known in the circles you are running for.
- Researching on the role and what people think of you in that role.
- If your research shows you are not ready don’t do it.
- Practicing speaking, if you don’t have it as a strength work on it
- Never thinking that if you stammer you can’t speak in front of people, it can be worked on.
- Being known for having character, confidence and being competent.
- If you want it, go for it.
The women who participated in the forum were asked to share their thoughts on what women need to do to rise to leadership positions and why they thought women will be better leaders in sport. Below were some of the responses.
Babra Pedzayimunda- Taekwondo
“As women we should try and get mentorship from those already in the field. Then when we have the experience, we improve our networking skills so that we are known. Sports administration needs leadership from women because we are passionate about what we do and once we put our mind to something we produce results.”
Clareser Muhonde- Rugby
“Women need to study sport, have passion for sports, develop themselves and other athletes, and get involved in sport to progress as leaders. There are other sporting codes, which were known as male sports, hence involvement of women in leadership means that the young girls and other women who want to join the sport will have role models.”
Eugenia Mandeya-Sports Science student
“Women need to believe in themselves and their abilities to lead. Recently there has been an increase in corrupt leadership in sport and having women on board will introduce honesty in the system and fair distribution of funds and services.”
“l believe that in order for women to gain leadership positions in sport, we need to actively participate, learn the systems and structures that govern sports. After that we can use the knowledge that we have and step up our involvement. Sports need women’s leadership for it to be inclusive and sustainable.”
Tammy Benade- Triathlon
“I think woman need to be more assertive, have better knowledge on
what is going on around them and to have more confidence when dealing with men and their peers to gain leadership positions in sport. Women are more grounded and they are able to multitask giving them the ability to handle more than one situation at a time, whereas men tend to deal with one issue at a time and then move on.”
Sithabisiwe Khumalo- Volleyball
“Mostly, men get these leadership positions for hidden agendas but women are mostly passionate about what they do. So, if we have women as leaders there will be less corruption in sports, and cheating can also be eradicated. Men will do anything to win and that’s not being good role model if people in leadership are not honest. So I feel we should have more women in leadership positions.”
Overall, the leadership workshop was received with positive feedback by the women in attendance. Hopefully, the sports administration in Zimbabwe is going to see more women rising to the occasion and taking up influential positions.
Images are of participants and speakers who attended the provided by Grace Chirumanzu.