Rugby league is reaching more people in Africa with the start of a formal women’s competition in Ghana, and the first nation people of Cameroon taking up the sport.
In Ghana, a campaign was launched in July 2020, ‘Pretty Girls Play Rugby League’ which has led to the formation of five women’s clubs. Rachael Ankomah, RLFG women’s rugby league coordinator, who devised the recruitment drive, commented: “Training officially started on 8 October for the ladies. In November, it was decided by the committee of the female division to allocate clubs to all of them in an official launch.”
Meanwhile, a new club in East Cameroon, Orient Rugby XIII, based in Bertoua will have a section dedicated to the first nation, forest people, known as the Pygmies. They have traditionally lived without any contact with the outside world and protected by the forest habitat, which they are trying to preserve in the face of increased industrialised logging in the country.
According to Carol Manga, general manager of CRL XIII: “For many years there has been a good platform in Australia – and the NRL in particular - where the Indigenous people can proudly promote their culture. CRL XIII would like to support the same approach for our first nation people; we are proud to be part of this concept, using rugby league as a tool to address the issues facing them in Cameroon.”
He added: “Recognising their struggles it is a start! We have a long way to go and rugby league has always been the voice of many. We are hoping to inspire others sports in Cameroon to begin to see ways to close the gap with our first nation people.”