The Bahamas is not known for its rugby dominance but the Bahamas Rugby Union (BRU) is looking towards the youth to play one of the most popular sports in the world.
They have targeted three high schools with others coming on board later. These schools include Doris Johnson Senior High School, Queen’s College and C.R. Walker Senior High School.
In addition to those three schools, there are two youth clubs – the Arawaks and Stingrays. The BRU is looking to tackle more schools.
According to Jordan Isaacs, one of the coaches for the junior rugby program, the youth program got restarted last year when Adam Waterhouse took up the mantle as youth development officer.
“We are trying to get as many kids as possible to participate in the sport – not just for the tournament next year but playing rugby in general,” Isaacs said.
Last year there were 30 junior players who were participating on Saturdays. They went on a trip to Freeport, Grand Bahama, and as a result of that trip, they now have about 50 children who are participating in the sport.
Neveah London, 16, has been playing rugby for four years and had the opportunity to play for The Bahamas Women’s National Team. The home-schooled student said that she is ahead of the group but said the other girls have been catching on fast.
“I am happy to see more younger females in the sport. [T]he youth women are just as important as youth men – if not more important because women’s rugby is really blowing up right now and so is the sport,” London said.
She added: “I am hoping that we can get a few teams like how the men’s here have a championship every year. We can do that with females if we try hard enough to get youths out.”
For 15-year-old Dominique Stubbs, he is happy that the BRU resumed the program.
“It has been really great,” Stubbs said.
“I have been playing since the eighth grade where there were 10 or 11 of us. We learnt the basics of the rugby game. Since they restarted the program, I have been able to develop my skills with a great group of coaches and my peers came out as well. It is a bonding experience and I really enjoy it.”
The 11th grade Queen’s College student said it has been great to get more persons out, and he loves the tackling aspect of the game.
He hopes they get to travel outside of The Bahamas to play in tournaments. In the future, Stubbs also wants to see rugby played competitively in schools.
Stubbs said he wants to keep playing rugby for fun, exercise and as a bonding experience.
Isaacs said he has seen a lot of passion and interest from the young people for the sport so far.
“The amount of interest and the passion for the sport where some have only been playing for a few months, is very encouraging. People tend to gravitate towards the new thing but after a while they leave if they don’t like it,” Isaacs said.
“For them, they enjoy the sport. They see there are opportunities in the sport. I’d like to think that rugby is a very good environment and a tight knit group. We are a small community and that allows us to be personable to our students. They have received it very well.”
For the short-term, Isaacs want the juniors to play in the Buck Johnson 10’s Tournament, a local upcoming tournament and the Rugby Americas North Under-19. The latter is for men and women’s 15’s next year.
Isaacs said the females are more hesitant to join the sport but once they join, they are the aggressors.
Persons who are interested in joining the practices can still do so. Joint practices are held on Saturdays at the Winton Rugby Pitch at 1 p.m. The Arawaks’ practice is held on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Fort Charlotte. The Stingrays’ practices are on Fridays 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Winton Rugby Pitch.