The ‘Zimqueens’ are a group of Zimbabwean women and girls who meet twice a week to participate in social netball games. What is remarkable about the Zimqueens, is that they are a grassroots initiative who have created a self-devised program which encourages inclusion of women and girls from new and emerging communities in community sports.
The Zimqueens approached Sports Without Borders in 2013 and applied for the SWB Sports Scholarship Program to assist in facility hire. Netball Victoria subsequently provided support and in training sessions with the aims of entering the Zimqueens into the local competition.
The Zimqueens training session provide an opportunity for team mates to socialise and improve their skills, while involvement in the local competition provides a chance to test those skills against other teams. Importantly, participation allows the children of members of the Zimqueens to actively observe the healthy lifestyle modelling of their parents as well as modelling greater community involvement.
Australian Sports Commission Chairman, John Wylie recently recognised publicly that women’s involvement and achievements in sports are “under-appreciated”.
Indeed, lack of access, coupled with the ever increasing costs involved in sports participation stand as potential barriers to social inclusion and equal opportunity to participate in sports among individuals, particularly women and girls, from new and emerging communities.
Catherine Mapaura Makur of the Zimqueens, says “We as the Zimbabwean Netball Team have come up with a program that will help ladies of the migrant community to keep fit and exercise. Having busy lifestyles as woman and mothers, we hardly get time to exercise knowing that we should undertake at least 30 minutes a day of exercise to keep fit and fight obesity, which has become an epidemic in developed countries.”
To further the current program, the Zimqueens have requested grant funding for a self-devised program that will keep their community active and improve their netballing skills through mentoring and coaching from Netball Victoria.