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Winning women sports leaders named for Matilda Mwaba Scholarships


Five outstanding young African women sport leaders were named winners of the University of London’s inaugural Matilda Mwaba Scholarships at November’s Africa Women and Sport Conference.

Maureen Ebob-Besong, scholarship winner

Launched in honour of the late Ms Matilda Mwaba, a dynamic advocate for the empowerment of girls and women through sport, the awards went to Hycentha Lehloenya (Lesotho), Nkechinyere Charity Okorie (Nigeria), Maureen Ebob-Besong (Cameroon), Talent Ncube (Zimbabwe) and Patricia Ayebare (Uganda).

The scholarships, aimed at women under 35 years of age living in an African country, will cover the fees for one module (short module) of University of London’s distance learning International Sports Management programme. Successful recipients also receive mentorship in the specialist subject area which will be facilitated by Women’s Sport and Africa Network (WSAN) who are participating partners in the initiative.

“We shall allocate all award winners with specialist African women mentors because mentored women are statistically more successful in any industry than non-mentored women,” noted Miss Game Mothibi, WSAN’s secretary general. “They rise to positions of power more quickly and with fewer roadblocks than women who do not have a mentor.”

Dr Oscar Mwaanga, programme director of the Postgraduate Certificate in International Sports Management, commented: “Needless to say, this award aligns to the women empowerment ambitions of both the African Union and the University of London. Additionally, it is testimony to the University’s historical commitment to widening participation of women in higher education. Please accept my sincere gratitude for the support that made this award a reality.”

Presenting the awards Mrs Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe’s minister of sport, thanked University of London and encouraged the winners to use the opportunity to foster the legacy of Matilda Mwaba, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Zambia National Organisation for Women in Sport Physical Activity and Recreation.

Her work focused on increasing women’s and girls’ participation in sport, sport for development, organisational development, and policy engagement on the integrity of sport. Matilda passed away on 11 January 2021.

Commenting on her award, Cameroonian winner, Maureen Ebob-Besong, said that as an entrepreneur who recently made a bold decision to create a start-up,

it is important to further equip myself with more tools to effectively carry out my entrepreneurial activities in sports. Therefore, I am grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank Dr Oscar Mwaanga and Miss Game Mothibi for their inspiration and leadership.