Rugby Victoria’s Teachers Ambassador Program is designed to provide best practice content, support and information for those advocating for Rugby Union within schools.
There is no better example of those growing our great game than Alex Clarke – College Sport Coordinator at Sunshine College.
Alex is responsible for coordinating campus sport, organising interschool sport and addressing the State Government’s annual ‘Active Kids’ strategic plan. But it has been her focus on developing the rugby program at Sunshine College that has been met with the highest degree of popularity.
“The kids love it,” Alex said.
“We’ve put PE teachers on yard duty on the oval so they can play actual contact rugby because they enjoy it so much.”
“We have a huge influx of Pacific Islander kids, so a lot of them have been around a ball since they were two or three years old.”
“That was our driving influence to start with. Now all of their friends have started playing as well.”
The Teachers Ambassador program recognises the teachers who support the delivery of rugby in our Victorian schools to grow and develop our great game.
With the local school division not having a clear pathway or competition for Sunshine College’s rugby loving students, Alex has entered her school into Rugby Victoria’s Gala Days since 2017.
“We’ve had a heap of students interested in rugby and they all want to get involved,” Alex said.
“It’s something new for the kids.”
“The Gala Days separately in the past have been awesome.”
“The kids all know each other. They play against their family and friends.”
“It’s always a really great vibe.”
In the first year of combining both senior and junior campuses, Sunshine College formed and entered an U18 Boys Team in the 2021 Rugby Victoria U18 School 7s Gala Day for the first time.
The school now has its sights firmly set on competing in the upcoming U14/U16 Vic School 7s (West) Gala Day.
According to Alex, Rugby Victoria Gala days are providing the perfect stepping stone for Victoria’s rising stars to shine.
“We’ve had a couple of trials,” Alex said.
“The little kids are so cute; I’ve really taken them under my wing.”
“They just want to soak up the experience.”
“Some of them play on the weekends against each other, but they still have so many questions about 7s.”
“It’s good to see them grow just from the training sessions we’ve had.”
“They didn’t get these opportunities at primary school.”
“They’ve loved taking advantage of these opportunities and playing a physical sport together.”
Growing up in regional Victoria, Alex found her passion for sport in netball and rugby. The long drives from her hometown near Echuca to watch live rugby at AAMI Park provided her with the added benefit of clocking up the necessary hours to graduate from her learner’s licence.
Now Alex hopes that her role as Rugby Victoria Teachers Ambassador can inspire the next generation to get involved with sport.
“The rapport you get with these kids, just by having a conversation about their interests outside of the classroom is amazing.”
“They saw the posts from the Teacher Ambassador launch and were ecstatic I was at AAMI Park.”
“It’s a huge opportunity and exposure to have the resources available and the contacts to be able to upskill our kids and give them another form of physical activity.”
With a rapidly rising popularity in rugby at Sunshine College, Alex believes the sky is the limit for what the school’s rugby program can achieve for years to come.
“The plan in the long run is to give the kids as many opportunities as we can to play rugby.”
“Any exposure and opportunities I can give the kids to smile is just awesome.”
For more information on the Teacher Ambassador Program being run through Rugby Victoria in partnership with the Melbourne Rebels, get in contact with Game Development Manager Samantha Homewood via email at Samantha.email@example.com.