Epworth’s teenage taekwondo instructor recognised in IOC Women and Sport Awards

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Natsiraishe Maritsa, second right, goes through taekwondo kicking drills during a practice session with young boys and girls in the Epworth settlement about 15 km southeast of the capital Harare Nov. 7, 2020. Image: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Zimbabwean teenager Natsiraishe Maritsa has been honoured for efforts to empower girls through taekwondo with a continental prize in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women and Sport Awards.

Maritsa was awarded the African honour in recognition of a project which seeks to use taekwondo to raise awareness of hazards associated with child marriage, a particular issue in Zimbabwe.

The 18-year-old was nominated for the IOC honour by World Taekwondo.

“Natsiraishe thoroughly deserves this award in recognition of the crucial work she is doing in supporting young women in her community,” World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said.

“Her determination to reduce inequalities through sport and raise awareness through the global media has also helped these vulnerable women and girls to attend school and receive quality education.

“It is truly inspirational to witness her contributions to the sustainable development goals and Olympic Agenda.”

World Taekwondo has collaborated with the Zimbabwe Taekwondo Association and Korean Taekwondo Promotion Foundation to offer the initiative supplies, and has vowed to continue to support it.

The project combines taekwondo lessons with discussions about the risks of early marriage, designed to create a safe environment for girls to discuss topics including pregnancy, gender-based violence and harassment.

“Taekwondo tenets empowered me to fight for [awareness of] child marriages and had positive results to people who I impacted the taekwondo tenets to,” Maritsa added.

“With Taekwondo we are indeed champions of freedom, justice and peace.”

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