Offside Chats: Derek Lipscomb & RUNY Travel to Kenya
This is: OFFSIDE CHATS- where Rugby United New York athletes, coaches, and staff give you never before seen insights into the inner workings of a professional rugby team. Each week, a member of the organization will write a blog discussing any topic they see fit.
From Monday, November 11th until Friday, November 22nd, members of Rugby United New York will be in Nairobi, Kenya to work with the United Nations as part of our ongoing partnership.
RUNY Owner James Kennedy, Assistant Coach Tiffany Faaee, and athlete Derek Lipscomb will take part in various events throughout the duration of the trip.
Primarily, they will be partaking in the International Conference on Population and Development. In addition to the conference, the three will be visiting local rugby clubs and schools to spread the RUNY values.
By Derek Lipscomb
Rugby in the United States has always traversed cultural lines baseball, football, basketball, and even soccer could not cross. The ability to travel around the world with a rugby ball and engage many people from different walks of life happens in a way our American sports could not. And due to the physical aspect of the sport, rugby stands alone as a truly personal and global sport. All aspects of one’s body is needed in the 80 minutes of a match – mind, body, and spirit to come out on top when the final whistle blows.
We often take for granted the ways we have found ourselves representing our respective clubs on a breezy Saturday afternoon and sometimes we realize this privilege sitting and talking to the opposing teams after a match. We hear of the proverbial hoops players had to jump through just to make it to practice and we listen to the many ways rugby has helped multiple individuals make it through tough moments in their lives. Rugby is a unique experience that enhances as you meet more athletes that have shared that experience.
But rugby is also a vehicle for change.
Rugby has the ability to bring forth some of the most talented athletes and turn them into professional arbiters of change. They only need a chance. In September, Rugby United has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) give more rugby players a chance to bring change. For this year, James Kennedy, Tiffany Faaee, and I will be learning from some of the best experts of change at the International Conference of Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi, Kenya from November 11th to the 15th.
ICPD is geared, not only towards sustainable equity and equality, but with a focus on the girls and women around the world using health education as a means to bring reformation in our home communities. Rugby has the potential to do many things and partnering with education is an easy way to begin bringing cultures together for a cause. James and Tiffany have already spoken at the UN about the need to bring a heightened focus on equality and equity into the game of rugby and I am hoping to apply the knowledge gained in Nairobi to my own endeavors with Roots Rugby, which is wrapping up its first year.
On November 30th, Roots (Rugby Offering Opportunities To Succeed) Rugby will wrap up its first year in existence. With over 60 players having participated in the past year, with even more supporters, the Roots family continues to grow. Kyle and Tiana Granby have worked tirelessly over the past year to bring Roots to a number of cities and countries to shine light on the number of Black and African American athletes across the US. In the NY community Kimani (Kimo) Davis has spent a great deal of time in Harlem working with children and adults alike to get the neighborhood up and moving.
Their efforts have brought about tremendous change in the African American rugby communities and there is much to be proud of. With the experience of ICPD, I will be looking to add my own educational insights into how Roots can continue to grow and keep the conversation around the intersection of race, gender, and rugby continuing.
ICPD’s mission aligns with Roots in that education is truly a cornerstone of freedom. Too many times a player has been given more potential but not more opportunity. They have been given awareness of the world around them but not the means to reach it. ICPD and Roots both want to be able help educate communities about their own purpose and help facilitate more discussion about the means to reach their full potential.
Rugby has done so much for so many of us and it is time to pay that experience back by sharing our learnings with the new generation of players. As an educator, passion is always greatly felt but, as a rugby player, we know action is always better received.
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