Youngsters in the municipality of Chatham-Kent have been hitting the rugby field all summer and having fun by playing rugby sevens through the Kent Havoc’s Lil’ Ruggers Programme.
The initiative isn’t about finding the next global superstar for the national side. Instead, it encourages the 23 youth players who are registered to have fun while also teaching the core principles of the game. Some of the players that have been registered are as young as two.
Speaking to CKSN News, operator of the programme Kristin Buis said: “This is our third year running the programme, and we have seen steady growth in registration and unexpected interest from kids of parents that have never played rugby themselves.
“Over the past three years, I have enjoyed teaching my favourite sport to the children, but even more exciting is the potential of training the next Breanne Nicholas,” she added, pointing to Blenheim product Breanne Nicholas, who now plays for the national sevens team.
“In a few years, my Lil’ Ruggers will be playing Flag rugby, then full 15s, then possibly representing Canada in the Olympics. I dream big and have a lot of patience. Though that idea is inspiring, really, this program is about passing on my passion to kids, and getting to see them learn an easy-to-love sport and become part of our ever-growing rugby family,” Buis added.
The project was formerly called “Rookie Rugby” and was brought to life after Buis’ own children had shown an interest in playing the sport.
Buis concluded: “The programme has grown and changed, as have I as a coach, and I am always learning and trying out new ways to introduce little ones in our community to the Nation’s fastest growing sport.”
The Lil Ruggers have been playing sevens all summer, and will be part of the upcoming Ken Havoc’s Club day on the 20th July.
Main photo: Kent Havoc