Female representatives from across the Rugby Americas North (RAN) region, who work in a variety of leadership roles within their local rugby communities, recently attended what proved to be a highly successful Women’s Forum.
The goal of the conference was to provide the women with hands-on and in-depth knowledge of the key elements needed to successfully manage and grow their associated rugby programmes’ performance.
As many as 12 different nations were represented at the three-day event, including Mercedes Foy, team manager for the Cayman Rugby Football Union women’s team, who went to the forum with the goal of meeting new people and sharing knowledge. “I want to share best practices and some of the things that are working for us in Cayman so that, ultimately, we can make the RAN region more successful,” said Foy.
The productive tone of the Forum was established on day one by diving into team culture and high performance. Discussing the elements needed to establish and develop a high-performance team was Scott Harland, RAN’s regional training manager, and Forum presenter, Asya Bartley of Canada. They gave insights into the organisational requirements to facilitate the development of athletes and recognised the importance of constant evolution of the athletes’ support team.
Harland and Bartley also gave participants ideas around ways to get more resources for their programme development. This resonated with Kanisha Vincent from Trinidad & Tobago Rugby Football Union (TTRFU), chair of the TTFRU’s selection committee. She commented that the high-performance content gave her the idea of leaning on graduate students for physiotherapy and analytical support for their athletes. “(TTRFU) have a limited number of volunteers that work with our union, so being able to access that resource would be important to us”, said Vincent.
The agenda then turned to team management. The group gained new perspectives from Darcy Patterson, Rugby Canada’s women's team manager. Patterson helped to define the role of a team manager which is often multi-faceted. This led to a scenario-based session where conference attendees had to work together to see how they would manage certain situations, using the knowledge they learned throughout the day paired with personal experiences. The content explored technical elements as well, such as budget consideration, player welfare, and how to make a run sheet.
The conference culminated in event planning workshops run by Heriberto Lachica, Federación Mexicana de Rugby’s event coordinator, and Brandy Medran, USA Rugby’s general manager of commercial and events. They introduced the group to different tools and techniques that facilitate effective event management as well as how to directly apply them.
Lachica went into the processes attendees can use to plan a comprehensive event, while Medran focused more on the logistical elements that need to be taken into consideration around the venue and facilities. She gave useful insight into how organisations can approach broadcasting, marketing, and general event promotion with tips on how to get the most out of sponsorship and the importance of community engagement.
The conference went beyond just classroom learning, working as a networking opportunity to the various countries that regularly compete against but rarely interact with each other. Attendees had many opportunities to socialize from movie night to team-building games, and taking in the matches at the 2022 RugbyTown 7s tournament at Infinity Park.
Overall, the conference was a success as attendees had the opportunity to interact, network, and ultimately recognise how much an event like this was needed. Moving forward, RAN staff will check in with the group to see how they’ve implemented some of their learnings from the conference into their local rugby programmes.
2022 Rugby Americas North Women’s Forum Attendees: Petal Adams (Guyana), Zhenya Allain (St. Lucia), Heather Bernard (Jamaica), Corrie Cross (Bermuda), Gillian Cross (Bermuda), Caroline Deegan (Cayman Islands), Mercedes Foy (Cayman Islands), Patricia Jackson (Jamaica), Tamara Van Leeuwen (Curaçao), Janet London (Bahamas), Raquel Macias (USA), Rhian Minty (Cayman Islands), Gabriela Rojas Moreno (Mexico), Hannah Nitz (USA), Claudie Noël (Canada), Danielle Phillips (Barbados), Tenisha Samuel-Duke (Trinidad & Tobago), Jodian Simpson (Jamaica), Bertha Karina Landeros Solorio (Mexico), Alicia Sooknanan (Trinidad & Tobago), Maria Thomas (Trinidad & Tobago), Kanisha Vincent (Trinidad & Tobago), Araba Roo Chintoh (RAN Executive Committee), Cristina Flores Justic (RAN Executive Committee), Niall Brooks (RAN General Manager), Scott Harldna (RAN Regional Training Manager), Erin Kennedy (RAN Regional Development Manager), Asya Bartley and Darcy Patterson (Presenters, Canada), Heriberto Lachica (Presenter, Mexico).