Workplace sedentary behaviour is common all over the world, and this involves sitting for long periods using the computer, having very few movement breaks, using the elevator as opposed to the stairs, etc. And this, experts say, places them at higher risk of adverse health outcomes. Being what you’d call a ‘sports fanatic’, Winnie Kananura Muyumbukazi chose a career that would forever ensure she remains physically active, something she says she wouldn’t give up for anything. The physical education (PE) teacher and basketball coach is one of the few women in the profession locally. Love for sports Muyumbukazi fell in love with sports when she was little. Her father was the head coach and technical director of the Rwanda Amateur Boxing Federation at the time and would engage her in morning jogging and watch boxing matches together. She explains that sports bonded the family so much. “At that point, I just admired how my father, Gashugi Kananura, travelled for Olympic Games. But later, I realised that it was more than just about earning money and travelling. It was a means of good health,” she says. When she joined Fawe Girls School, Muyumbukazi watched, supported, and cheered the basketball team, though she didn’t join the team for fear that she wouldn’t balance sports with academics yet she wanted to excel. In her free time, she took on basketball, volleyball, and aerobics for fun. While in secondary school, she looked forward to being a doctor or teacher, to save lives and make a positive impact on society. After high school, she scored good grades in physics, chemistry, and biology, and scooped a government scholarship at the University of Rwanda where she pursued a course in physical education and sports. While at the university, she narrates that she learned about First Aid, dieting, sports coaching, refereeing, and so forth. Starting a career In 2019, Muyumbukazi obtained an internship training at Green Hills Academy, which opened a door to a job opportunity later on. “After graduation in 2021, I got a call at the same school to stand in for a swimming instructor for three months as she had gone on maternity leave,” she says. Muyumbukazi planned, organised, and instructed swimming and water safety classes for students from nursery level to secondary. Working for the school for some months, she yearned for new expertise, thus applying for a job at Acorns International School as a PE and swimming instructor which she got and does to this day. For her, working with children is amazing as it’s a full-time adventure, and allows her to keep learning to offer them new skills and proficiency. “It’s rewarding seeing a child learn from scratch to getting so skilled to represent the school in competitions and emerge a winner,” she explains. The PE coach says that the beauty of her job is that it keeps her body active, her mood boosted, weight managed, brain health improved, bones and muscles strengthened, and there are lower risks of sickness. Muyumbukazi also officiates swimming competitions and is a mediator at Rwanda Swimming Federation (RSF). She works with clubs like Les Dauphins, Mamba Basketball Club, and Elite Swimming Academy, all located in Nyarutarama. Girls and sports The swimming coach calls on women to join the profession as there are opportunities for them and notes that parents feel more comfortable if female students are trained how to swim by female coaches as the process involves touch. She has noticed that girls are comfortable with female coaches as they can communicate easily when they are in their menses, thus missing swimming which is a bit tricky to explain to male coaches. There are challenges just like any other job. In this case, some parents don’t think that female coaches are as good as males. On some occasions, her ability and expertise have been questioned by people as she has been asked if she really pursued a course in the profession since she is a woman. Working with international schools has pushed her to keep learning from the job as she meets students from diverse cultures. She highlights that international schools value sports that it’s part of the syllabus, and the administration invests in its equipment and facilities and encourages students to participate. The coach calls on teachers to encourage learners to partake in physical education as its vital for their mental health and well-being, allows them to learn better, socialise more easily, and advance in leadership, and communication skills. But also, it enables them to stay physically fit, and mentally healthy, and improves their overall physical health, she adds. Future plans Muyumbukazi anticipates starting a company that helps in babysitting, assisting learners with homework, daily activities, planning for children at home, practical life skills such as cooking, and also, crafting an entertainment club where children’s talents can be nurtured. She believes that some children have potential but their talents haven’t been discovered yet, and it is necessary to support a child if you notice their talent or ability. Muyumbukazi says that there should be advocacy in the sports field to allow children, especially girls, to develop a passion for sports, and also have role models in the domain. “We are capable of anything if we put our minds and energy into it. There is no job meant for a specific gender, women can also join sports and shine in it,” she says.