At this year’s Asia Rugby Championship Division III West, it wasn’t just the senior side of Lebanon competing against Qatar and Jordan. As well as a travelling U18, U16 and U14 side, the women’s sevens side also competed in the West Asia sevens competition.
Having hosted the tournament in 2018, the Lebanese women’s sevens side made history as the first time they travelled as a team internationally.
Captain Zina Ibrahim, who guided her side to a runners-up spot after a 22-7 defeat to Qatar A, was delighted with her side’s performances over the weekend.
“The experience in Doha was amazing, as a first-time tournament I can’t imagine it to have gone better.
“Second or first, it was an honor to be on the first national rugby team for women from Lebanon playing in such a tournament.
“To witness the growth of the sport for women and for men is something that I have dreamed of for years, and to finally play against such competitive players in itself was more than satisfactory.
“Coming in second definitely makes me want the first place even more now, and to work harder as a team so that we can win the cup next year.”
Representing her country in such an historic event was one thing, but to captain the side was also something Ibrahim will cherish for a long time to come.
“Wearing the jersey, holding my country’s flag, and having the support of my friends, teammates and family back home is such an honor and a blessing,” added Ibrahim.
“I am humbled and blessed to be able to represent my country, and to be given the opportunity to represent my team as captain and show what Lebanon rugby has to offer. It also says a lot about our countries in the region as the first to start developing international women’s rugby teams.”
Not only is the region helping develop women’s rugby internationally, Lebanon are also taking a lead role in developing rugby in the country.
“Like I said, rugby in Lebanon is kind of like a family. We all know each other, and over the years I’ve seen so many fresh faces welcomed into this growing family,” explained Ibrahim.
“From zero women’s teams to three, the growth is really picking up pace, and the more light that is shone on us the more people are approaching us.
“We’ve got the federation who is fully supportive in our growth, and we’ve got individuals who are coaching for free just to see the dream come alive.
“We’re currently lacking funding which is why a lot of the players pay for their own expenses, rental of fields and kits but I hope that one day we’ll have a fully developed rugby club for all of us.
“I also hope that one day the stigma against women playing rugby in the Arab region disappears, because we find it very hard to recruit women players, and in that regard believe that our team really breaks the stereotype and shows how women from different parts of Lebanon all came together to create a future for women’s rugby in Lebanon.”