A Twickenham women's rugby team will be heading to Africa this summer as part of a rugby tour organised by a Hampton business owner.

Thamesians Ladies will be heading to Zambia in August where they will play against local teams, including those in the town of Mufulira in the north east of the country.

But the tour only came about following the efforts of Richmond native and metal merchant Anthony Lipmann, of Lipmann Walton and Co Ltd.

The 62-year-old business owner had previously opted for a life in the countryside and moved his family to Somerset.

Whilst living in the area, he became friends with teaching group IntroZambia, where he discovered that students would enter into 'twinning programs' with students at a school in Mufulira.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Mr Lipmann said he first ventured to Zambia on a holiday to learn more about the twinning system, but made a discovery there which shocked him.

"When the teachers invited me to Zambia - it was meant to be a holiday to see how the Twinning System worked but, then I started to look around and realised that the way the miners were smelting metals was actually a serious health concern," he said.

According to Mr Lipmann, the smelting process in Zambia exposed miners to polluted air emissions and sulphur dioxide gases which seriously impacted the community's health, so he vowed to help improve conditions there.

He established a relationship with the mining community through trust and guidance for over ten years and in March last year, whilst visiting again, was invited to watch the Mufulira Leopardesses, the town's local rugby team, prepare for their next match.

When he arrived at the stadium he was impressed at the fact the rugby team had a female division. 

Mr Lipmann explained: "Rugby in Mufulira Town is like the meeting point between the community and miners.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

"It is almost as if rugby in Zambia empowers women as well as helping them to gain independence as there are issues in Zambia such as the 'child bride situation' which puts women and girls into situations that are not ideal."

After reaching out to many English rugby teams, Mr Lipmann eventually received responses from the Thamesians Women's Rugby team in Twickenham and Yeovil Women's Rugby Team in Somerset.

They will be heading to Zambia in August for the rugby tour and to also meet with the Mufulira community in an attempt to strengthen sporting and community relations.

Amy Parker, a player who has been playing with Thamesians Ladies since the team was created, said: "We are extremely excited to be involved in not only an amazing sporting opportunity but an important movement and message: that we all stand together with a common passion.

"We realise that this is a turn in history for women and rugby everywhere and we hope that this opportunity inspires more women to get involved with the global family that is rugby.

“The tournament comes at a pivotal time for women’s rugby and it excites us to be a part of something so vast!

"We embark on this trip knowing that it is something we will be able to tell our children about and in turn inspire them to be involved and inclusive. We are training hard so that the Leopardesses have the absolute best of us and our abilities as it is the least we can do for our gracious hosts."