Founder & Executive Director
for Rozaria Memorial Trust
Investing in girls’ and women’s economic empowerment is critical to tackling issues of poverty, child marriage and sexual gender based violence. This is a mission that Rozaria Memorial Trust strongly believes in, and works to achieve via events like their Girls Soccer Tournament.
I spoke with Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the Founder and Executive Director for Rozaria Memorial Trust, to learn more about the work Nyaradzayi and her organization lead in Zimbabwe. Though they are primarily rooted in local communities in Zimbabwe, Rozaria Memorial Trust (RMT) is also engaged in national, regional, and international advocacy for unleashing the potential of young people — especially girls — in poor-resourced communities. RMT supports innovative initiatives related to education, health, and entrepreneurship for girls.
Can you tell us about the soccer tournament that was held on June 17-19th, 2022?
We were very excited to host a mega Nhanga (an innovative, cultural space for intergenerational conversations and learning) and the 3rd RMT Girls Soccer Tournament as part of the Day of the African Child. We had 15 teams from 5 districts participate, with almost 500 participants, who were mostly girls. The theme was “kick out child marriages”, in support of healthy bodies and bright minds.
What else does the RMT Girls Soccer Tournament support?
The event was the launch of a massive mobilization for girls to own, use, and disseminate the marriage laws in their countries. In May, Zimbabwe passed a marriage law that prohibits and criminalizes child marriage. Girls must be front-line champions in advocating for and protecting their rights.
Can you walk us through the history of the event?
RMT established Nhangas 5 years ago, in communities reaching over 2,000 girls at the time, and has also held virtual Nhangas in regional and international spaces such as African Union Girls Summits, and the Commission on Status of Women. In terms of the Girls Soccer Tournament, this is the 3rd edition. The first was held in 2017, and the second was in 2019. Last year, Covid disrupted the program.
What has evolved as the event has grown?
The event has exponentially grown from coverage of two districts to five, and from eight teams to 15. A wide range of media, NGOs, and development partners have become involved. The event is becoming stronger and sharper. For instance, we have female-only referees, and we ask the girls to break gender stereotypes in sports, especially soccer. We are urging them to be confident in blowing the whistle when they witness abuse on the field, to show a yellow card to someone misbehaving, and a red card to whoever crosses the line.
How did this year’s event go?
It was an exciting exchange program for girls, as they played professional soccer and also had the opportunity to also discuss issues that affect their lives.
Magaya from Murewa lifted the trophy, with Sirens from MTC Chimanimani as runners up. Hundreds stormed the sports field when the final whistle was blown.
How did you partner with ConnectHER for the tournament?
ConnectHER is a long standing partner of Rozaria Memorial Trust, supporting our girls in rural environments. ConnectHER supplied generators that provided electricity for us during the event. They also built a library that inspired many girls to focus on education and this MegaNhanga and girls soccer, a mobilzsation in fighting child marriage. RMT also runs a shelter for survivors of gender based violence.
What do you hope this event will achieve? How will it change lives?
The event proved that we can create and sustain a social movement of girls as champions of their rights and as game changers in society if we innovate with culture, sports, and technology. We’re changing social norms and gender stereotypes, opening new career pathways for girls, and bringing communities and families with us along the way. It was fantastic to have Chief Mangwende as the Guest of Honor for the event.
I’d like to express my gratitude to partners like ConnectHER who dare to dream with us and our girls who are in rural areas. We invite everyone to join us in 2024 for the next Mega Nhanga and 4th Edition of our RMT Girls Soccer Tournament. It's solidarity from sisters like Lila and ConnectHER that nourishes our efforts on the Frontline.
You can learn more about Rozaria Memorial Trust, their mission, and their work here.