Tunisia out to push the boundaries for Africa(IRB.COM) Friday 28 June 2013
Tunisia have created history by reaching Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow and captain Ikhlas Abida believes her side are ready to make their debut and to enjoy a huge moment in their lives.
“Women’s rugby is still very new in Tunisia and for us to be here in Moscow competing with the best teams in the world is a huge opportunity for us," she explained.
"In Tunisia, women’s rugby is progressing and we are working really hard to grow the Game. We are starting programmes to get younger girls into rugby in schools and that will be a huge way for us to drive player numbers and increase the standards of the game. Back home there are not a lot of team sports for girls and women so we want everyone to see that rugby is fantastic to be part of.”
Tunisia have not been handed an easy draw in Moscow as they are pooled with IRB Women's Sevens World Series champions New Zealand as well as highly experienced sides Canada and Netherlands. However, Abida insists her side have nothing to fear.
“We believe in our competence and ability. We have a very tough pool but we will try very hard and we will certainly be targeting a win in our pool. We won’t be giving up on any game. The teams we will play are big and strong and New Zealand have grown up with a culture of rugby in their country unlike us. But we love rugby and we love being here and being involved in this World Cup. We can’t wait to start.”
For Tunisia the dream is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Brazil when Sevens makes its debut in 2016.
“Rugby is giving us a chance to try and compete at the Olympics. We are working hard with great sessions and we have some great staff and the players are getting fitter. The Olympic Games is a huge target for us and we believe in ourselves to be able to do that.”
Tunisia’s leading women’s players are also hoping to inspire a generation of girls to take up the Game and represent their country.
“Being here, we want to show everyone at home that women’s rugby is a great chance to aspire to play in a team sport on a world stage. Most of us are only playing six or seven years so we are very new to the game. We are going to get better and we want to become a side that our country is proud of.
“There are clear plans in Tunisia to support the game and help us to qualify for the Olympics. Here in Moscow our target is to try and finish in the top 10. That is a tough target for us but we must set our standards high. We were part of the World Series in China which was tough for us but we have seen the standard we need to reach.”