Altering the world with rugby

Because of her participation within the IOC’s Younger Leaders Programme, American-born Erin Kennedy launched her undertaking, Women Rugby – which teaches younger ladies rugby and management expertise – in her homeland. The programme is now obtainable in a number of areas across the USA. Right here, we meet an government whose dream of a greater world simply gained’t cease rising.

Are you able to introduce your self and inform us what acquired you into sport?

My title is Erin Kennedy and I’m the Chief Working Officer (COO) and Co-Founding father of Women Rugby. I grew up in a small city in Pennsylvania the place sport was a really pure factor for youths to do. I had an older brother who performed sports activities, and it appeared very pure for me to get entangled as effectively. I needed to play all several types of sports activities, and my dad and mom allowed me to try this. I believe I began at round 5 or 6 years outdated and I instantly cherished it. It grew to become part of who I used to be and what I needed to do.

How did you get into rugby?

Really, I joined rugby fairly late in comparison with many others. I did not be part of rugby till I used to be 24 years outdated. Once I was youthful, I grew up enjoying many different sports activities, however rugby was not obtainable in my city and the faculties I attended. I began working for USA Rugby after I completed graduate faculty. As soon as I began working at USA Rugby, I figured it was pure for me to get entangled and begin enjoying the sport. It was actually totally different for me in comparison with different sports activities that I performed rising up. There’s a tradition to rugby that’s so totally different from different sports activities. It is a type of issues the place, should you get away from it, it retains pulling you again. The connections and the community that you simply make… you are really a part of this world household, you are a part of one thing larger. Regardless that I joined rugby later in life, the fervour was there. It is one thing very particular that retains you concerned.

Are you able to inform us in regards to the values within the Women Rugby programme?

In our Women Rugby programme, we run a values- and leadership-based curriculum, which implies we’re very deliberate in regards to the values that we put into our programme. We wish to be certain these ladies go away with a variety of core values and life expertise, along with the rugby expertise that they are studying. An instance of that is when one among our gamers stood up for one more pupil at school. It was all as a result of she discovered about respect in rugby observe. She was in a position to see that this different pupil was not revered, and he or she determined to go arise for them, and present them respect. It is extremely highly effective to be so younger and have the ability to apply that idea to different points of life. That is precisely what we wish to do in our programme.

Erin KennedyIOC – Younger Leaders
What has sport given you?

I believe sport has given me lots once I look again on it. As an grownup I’m extremely aggressive, I’m extremely pushed, and my skill to work with groups, downside remedy, and cope with challenges as they arrive up are all issues I discovered by sport. Sports activities have been in a position to present me with a superb basis of expertise and values that I now use as an grownup. I do know that there are research on the market that present that sports activities may give you so many alternative issues, and I believe I’m experiencing that for certain. The explanation why I’m profitable and the way in which that I’m is actually from the muse I constructed by sports activities.

What does the Younger Leaders Programme imply for you, and what did it do for you?

I labored for the Worldwide Olympic Committee again in 2015 and 2016, and really contributed to the primary model of the Younger Leaders Programme. Once I completed my contract with the IOC and returned to the USA, I needed to do a undertaking with rugby particularly for ladies. The IOC and the Younger Leaders Programme was a superb platform to get entangled as a result of it was in a position to carry that concept to life. I used to be in a position to take one thing that I needed to create and make it a actuality with the sources and help from the programme. I don’t know if I’d have achieved the undertaking with out the help of the programme.

What did you be taught?

I believe I largely discovered lots about myself all through this course of. I’m undecided that I knew this undertaking could possibly be what it’s right this moment once I first acquired began. What I discovered is that each one I actually wanted was this catalyst to get began and make one thing occur. From there, I used to be in a position to flip this into what Women Rugby is right this moment: a non-profit organisation devoted to empowering ladies by sport. The IOC Younger Leaders Programme helped me realise that I might do one thing larger.

Erin KennedyIOC – Younger Leaders
Inform us in regards to the younger leaders’ actions and what they obtain.

I’m now not concerned within the IOC Younger Leaders Programme, as it’s now open to Younger Leaders below 30, and I’ve aged out. However I’m staying concerned with another small tasks. This 12 months I assisted Panasonic with a digital discuss with their Staff Panasonic athletes, as a part of the CES 2021 occasion. I hope to be extra concerned in issues like this, or aiding with the IOC Younger Leaders Programme sooner or later.

What’s the story and the target behind the undertaking?

My undertaking is Women Rugby – a non-profit organisation within the US. Our mission is to empower ladies to succeed in their potential by sport, and we use flag rugby combined with core values and management expertise to try this. We selected this mission as a result of ladies wouldn’t have the identical alternatives to be lively in sports activities in comparison with boys. And notably in rugby, ladies weren’t getting concerned at youthful ages. We needed to create an atmosphere the place the ladies would really feel actually snug coming right into a sport like rugby. We needed to be very deliberate about what they have been studying in these programmes. We created Women Rugby to be that atmosphere. So far as I do know, we’re the one organisation that runs girls-only flag rugby programming for ages 7-14 within the US. Our objective is to supply extra alternatives for ladies to be lively, and to make it possible for when they’re lively in our programmes, they’re studying optimistic life expertise that may assist them achieve success on and off the sphere.

What do you suppose has been the most important impression in your group, and might you give some examples? What are you most happy with?

The largest impression that our programme has had is that we’re redefining what rugby for ladies means. With every little thing that we do, from our branding to how we run our programmes, we’re rising rugby in a manner that’s totally different from what the non-rugby group has ever seen. Women and their households at the moment are seeing different ladies who appear like them enjoying this recreation. We’re normalising what it’s wish to be a woman and a rugby participant. I’m enthusiastic about that as a result of now, when a mum or dad goes and searches rugby for his or her daughter, they’re going to see photographs and movies from our programme. It’s going to assist develop the game and get extra ladies concerned, which is strictly what we wish to do. I believe I’m most proud that we have been in a position to have as huge of an impression as we’ve had, in just some quick years. We’re now wanting ahead to the long run to proceed that progress.

Erin KennedyIOC – Younger Leaders
What do you consider Panasonic’s help for the Younger Leaders Programme, and the way have they made a distinction?

I like that Panasonic is supportive of the programme. Younger individuals have concepts on how they wish to change the world. To have a programme like this exhibits how necessary the long run is to Panasonic and the way a lot they wish to spend money on that. It’s large that Panasonic would help one thing like that. Giving younger individuals a programme the place they will take their concepts and switch them into actuality… I believe it’s superb. We’re going to begin seeing the impression within the years to come back.

What are your hopes and goals for the long run?

I preserve seeing our programming develop, and I would like extra individuals to get entangled, whether or not it’s placing their children into the programme, volunteering with us, or donating to assist contribute to our programmes. We wish to proceed our progress and growth. The extra programmes we are able to run, the larger an impression we are able to make. My hope is that Women Rugby will continue to grow in all communities, within the US and internationally. On the finish of the day, I hope that at the least one lady who joins a Women Rugby programme is ready to change her life due to what she is studying and taking from that. If anybody is desirous about contributing to or getting concerned in Women Rugby, they will go to our web site at www.girlsrugbyinc.com.

What do you suppose our future world wants?

I believe our future world wants empathy. We’re at the moment going by robust instances, and we’re on the level the place everyone seems to be having distinctive experiences and understanding who they’re as a person. I imagine our world can be lots higher if we had empathy for our neighbour. We should be extra open to every little thing: to expertise, to individuals, to our variations and to new challenges. If issues keep fixed then they by no means change, and we by no means develop.

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