Ireland international Juliet Short admits she can barely contain her excitement after being selected to join the coaching team for Premiership Rugby’s award-winning Try Rugby Brazil project.
Short will fly out to São José dos Campos in Sao Paulo state in January to start an 11-month placement, spreading the core values of rugby – teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.
Ahead of the introduction of Rugby 7s at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Premiership Rugby, in partnership with the British Council and SESI, are expanding the scheme, with over 14,000 young people aged six to 17 already receiving rugby coaching each week.
The community project uses rugby to encourage young Brazilians to live a more active and healthy lifestyle and Short was determined to apply as soon as she heard about the programme’s aims.
And with the 25-year-old able to draw on her experience of being in international training squads and representing the Irish Exiles, she is confident she can be a role model for all the participants.
“Words cannot express how excited I am to be selected for such an innovative rugby programme. To export the game to South America and to be involved is an unbelievable opportunity,” she said.
“I was talking to a friend on an RFU development course and she told me she wished she could go to Brazil and as soon as she told me what it was, I had to apply.
“It’s now less than five weeks away so it’s getting very exciting and it has achieved so much already, we’ve got to go even further so we are really targeting hard to reach at-risk children this time.
“I’m absolutely hoping to use my experience to benefit the initiative and it’s great that 40 per cent of interest is from the girls, especially with how well the Brazil women’s 7s team are doing.
“I’m sure my experience will have an impact as I’ll be able to offer them advice on how much dedication is needed to make it in this sport. I’m hoping to be a role model.”
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The Darlington Mowden Park Sharks player has been granted leave from her club for the year and insists they were more than happy to allow her to pursue such a unique opportunity.
With the profile of the women’s game rising and the Olympics on the horizon, Short believes this is a vital time to keep spreading the awareness of the sport.
“We’re hoping to establish local young rugby teams to cement the legacy,” she added.
“It’s another reason I’m really excited – this is a relatively new sport so anyone can get involved and have a go with the Olympics just around the corner.
“I’m also hoping they’ll help me out with my Portuguese as I’m currently using as many apps as I can to learn a bit before I go out there!”
Premiership Rugby’s Brazil project manager Scott Watson is confident Short’s participation will help the scheme and the excitement around the project continue to grow.
“Juliet’s involvement provides another brilliant role model for the participants, we’ve provided some fantastic role models in the past and we wanted to keep that going” he said.
“We want to spread the success to more areas and regions because of the positive impact the programme is having already.
“We are focusing on the base of the pyramid of young people getting involved and if one or two go onto an elite level, then that’s an added bonus.”