Ahead of Women's Day, a young teenager is proving to be an exceptional trailblazer in her community, holding the status of the only female rugby player in Masiphumelele. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Ahead of Women's Day, a young teenager is proving to be an exceptional trailblazer in her community, holding the status of the only female rugby player in Masiphumelele. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Masiphumelele’s only female rugby player Zola Nondwayi, 14, seeks to break stereotypes

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Aug 6, 2021

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Cape Town - With National Women’s Day on Monday, a teenager is holding the status as the only female rugby player in Masiphumelele.

Masiphumelele High School learner, Zola Nondwayi, 14, was just 10 years old when she was first introduced to rugby and remains the only female in her community to have taken up the male-dominated sport.

“I really enjoy playing the sport because I’m a very adventurous person.

“I like doing new things, things that other people are afraid to do,” said Nondwayi.

“Since rugby is a male-dominated sport, I am trying to change that, because I believe sport has no gender.

“At first it was difficult because the boys thought I couldn’t do it because I’m a girl and I was regarded as weak and not physically stronger but later on through hard work and dedication I’ve managed to prove myself and my skills.”

Nondwayi hopes to play for the national rugby team, following after her role model and current captain of the women’s Springbok team, Babalwa Latsha.

Fourteen-year-old Zola Nondwayi started playing rugby at the age of ten. She chose to play rugby because it is such a male-dominated sport and she wants to change that. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Fourteen-year-old Zola Nondwayi in action. She started playing rugby at the age of ten. She chose to play rugby because it is such a male-dominated sport and she wants to change that. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

“I would like to say to young girls and women out there, don’t be afraid to do what you think is right for yourself, keep fighting for your dreams.”

Ukhanyo Primary School coach Teddy Nyali said because her high school does not offer rugby, Nondwayi returned to her primary school every day after school to train.

“I met Zola during a physical education class and I asked her why doesn’t she join rugby or cricket because I could see her physical attributes and enthusiasm and Zola decided to join rugby,” said Nyali.

Nyali described her as dedicated, hardworking, courageous, and constantly striving to improve.

He hopes she could serve as an inspiration to others, bringing much needed reform in the sport and community.

“We want more girls to participate in a variety of sports in our school/community and not just netball and this will help to promote gender equality and break down all the negative stereotypes that's been said about girls,” said Nyali.

Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

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