The new Rugby Africa president outlines the potential of the likes of Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia
During the World Cup in France, the global spotlight naturally gravitated towards Tier One nations. Yet the future of rugby isn’t confined to these nations. World Rugby recently highlighted that emerging nations are the key drivers of growth, identifying African rugby sides Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia as three of six emerging nations experiencing strong growth in 2023.
As the newly elected president of Rugby Africa, I believe Africa holds the immense potential to shape the future of the sport. Africa’s rapidly growing population and untapped talent presents a promising future for the sport, offering substantial business opportunities in an emerging market and empowering communities across the region. To fully unlock this potential, we must establish dedicated pathways to promote greater equity in the sport.
According to the UN, the African youth will account for a remarkable 42% of the world’s population in 2030. Often overlooked in the global rugby conversation, Africa can shape the future. If rugby continues to be made accessible to youth, passion for the sport can be nurtured. Through harnessing the youth’s passion for rugby, there is boundless promise.
To invest in Africa’s passion for rugby is to invest in an emerging market of 1.3 billion individuals. The United Nations expects the African population to double by 2050. This demographic represents far more than a business opportunity, it’s a compelling invitation to engage with an emerging market of unprecedented size and potential. As Africa’s population continues to expand each year, investing today marks the beginning of a transformative journey that will resonate across generations.
Beyond economic gain, rugby can speak to the future of Africa as a whole. It serves as a call to harness the potential of our youth toward positive endeavours. Rugby can empower communities, foster unity among individuals and reshape lives.
What help does African rugby need?
The core values of solidarity, respect, discipline, passion and integrity transcend the boundaries of the playing field. These fundamental values shape the characters of our youth, instilling essential qualities crucial for personal growth and empowerment.
Along with the empowerment of rugby, the sport is a catalyst for inclusion, relentlessly dismantling barriers and promoting gender equality within the ranks. The positive impact of rugby extends beyond the playing field, making it a potent force capable of lifting entire communities.
However, there are structural disadvantages that hinder Africa’s progress in the global rugby arena. There is persistent disparity in resources, funding and access to international competitions.
And so as we witness the dedication and talent of African rugby players, we must then ask ourselves: how is Africa expected to compete on an equal footing when it is unable to access similar support and opportunities as their counterparts in the sport?
For Africa to eventually reach its boundless potential, we must take concrete actions to ensure increased equity and representation within the global rugby community. It is a collective responsibility to re-evaluate competition structures and funding.
Investing in rugby across Africa is an investment in our collective futures, a pathway to economic prosperity, a commitment to our youth and a belief in a continent that can redefine the sport.
Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia represent only the initial chapters of rugby’s growth within Africa, a journey promised to enrich the sport and lives of billions. With a population of 1.3 billion, Africa’s significance should not be forgotten.