Sharks Community Trust coach Vicky Irwin has just returned back from Venezuela where she was coaching youngsters for Try Rugby.
During the trip I worked with 2300 individuals across 5 schools, 4 Coach Education sessions and a coaching session in the Mesuca in Caracas.
The trip was amazing to be part of, the culture of rugby is very raw in Venezuela however the passion and enthusiasm for the game is extremely high. I enjoyed all three cities, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto and Caracas, all very different experiences with Caracas the most challenging in terms of the social issues there at present.
We worked with a pool of coaches from the cities and it was great to see the coaching knowledge they already know and use my experience within Rugby to develop them, as coaches. We worked with large year groups of children within the sessions, which was challenging due to these children never playing rugby before and we were limited to 30 minute sessions due to the vast numbers wanting to experience rugby.
The transferable skill set from the children in the schools enabled us to progress the sessions quickly and we were able to play touch/grapple rugby, with the older boys really enjoying the contact challenge!
A stand out highlight from the trip for me personally was visiting the Mesuca in the barrio of Caracas, deep in the heart of the most dangerous area of Venezuela, I witnessed first hand the change that sport can play in society, which is incredible to witness.
The community united within a sports centre aimed at combatting crime, which it is successfully doing as I talked to locals whilst taking the session. The TryRugby programme from Premiership Rugby is an excellent way to grow the game worldwide and I am very thankful to be part of the programme.