Sithole, World Taekwondo believed in Maritsa

the herald

Sports journalist

Natsiraishe Maritsa’s story cannot be complete without mentioning World Taekwondo and the Honorary Lifetime President of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Tommy Sithole, who both believed in the teenager and her initiative.

Maritsa recently made headlines after winning the 2021 International Olympic Committee Women and Sport Prize for Africa.

She is one of six gender equality advocates who have been honored by the IOC with the 2021 Women and Sport Awards. World Taekwondo nominated Maritsa for the IOC Honor and their President, Chungwon Choue, wrote to Sithole for his endorsement of the bid last year in March. In her letter of endorsement from Maritsa, sent to IOC Women and Sport Commission Chair Lydia Nsekera last year, Sithole acknowledged the young taekwondo enthusiast’s efforts and determination to make a difference in her community. .

“I have had the pleasure of following the rise of the candidate (Maritsa) in the game of empowering her compatriots by using sport as a tool to empower women and girls and by educating and instilling in them a positive spirit in a very poor region that offers too little hope for their future.

“Indeed, taekwondo in his region of residence was not, until his rise, a household name in a society dominated by male sports like football and machismo. Indeed, taekwondo does not require the luxury of massive spaces for players and spectators.

“In these confined, unplanned settlements that otherwise women would be intimidated just by navigating the narrow paths they dare to call roads, Natsiraishe has found her calling, appropriately through a sport that is rooted in history. to put themselves at the service of humanity in the true spirit of the Olympic ideal.

“It would be an exaggeration to describe the sheer respect her program participants and viewers have for this young person who has dared to address taboo subjects in society – child marriage in particular – through what would have been an unconventional sport. orthodox which they have now accepted as the very basis and the important ingredient of this project without which it would not be.

“There couldn’t have been a better place in Zimbabwe than the sprawling, unplanned suburb of Epworth, just outside Harare, to introduce this program. But it needed an energetic person with a mission, a strong and determined domestic product, brave enough to take a stand against a cultural taboo.

“Natsiraishe (Do good to God) does good to his God, to his community and to his country, to the sport of taekwondo and to the Olympic Movement,” read part of the letter sent by Sithole to the chairperson of the commission. woman and sport of the IOC, Nsekera, the last year.

Sithole wrote to Nsekera after World Taekwondo President Choue hired him, asking for Maritsa’s candidacy approval.

Tommy Sidhole

“I am sure you are very familiar with Natsiraishe’s mission through taekwondo, which has captured the hearts and minds of the global taekwondo family.

“We were privileged to engage with Natsiraishe at the 2nd World Forum on Gender Equity and Women’s Leadership in Taekwondo earlier this month, during which she inspired us with her humility and maturity over- beyond his age. At the forum, we pledged to help him and are now working with the Zimbabwe Taekwondo Association to provide the necessary support, including taekwondo equipment.

“We believe Natsiraishe deserves IOC and global recognition for her embodiment of the Olympic values ​​we preach,” Choue wrote early last year.

Awarded annually at continental and global levels, the IOC Women and Sport Awards honor outstanding men, women and organizations for their work to advance gender equality on and off the playing field.

Introduced in 2000, the IOC Awards for Women and Sport celebrate outstanding role models and agents of change in promoting gender equality and inclusion. Each year, six trophies are awarded, one for each of the five continents and one globally, to support outstanding contributions to the participation of women and girls in sport.

In the 20 years of the awards’ existence, 116 laureates from 65 different nations have been received.

The work of the winners to promote gender equality through different projects is also supported by a grant to help them continue and expand their work. Maritsa founded the Vulnerable Minors Auditorium, where she uses taekwondo to fight child marriage and pregnancy.

The 18-year-old said the award motivated her to keep going, knowing she was not the only one changing the lives of many girls and young mothers.

“I did not expect this kind of award, like a continental award because it is a great achievement to be recognized internationally and around the world. So I didn’t really expect it but it happened, I won the prize and I’m very grateful.

“This award really motivated me to continue. It gave me the strength to keep pushing, to keep fighting for change because it’s an inspiration. It’s something that lets me know that I’m not alone in the world. There are a lot of people who support me, who recognize what I do so it’s an inspiration for everything I do,” said Maritsa.

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