Harlequins Foundation hosts inaugural girls rugby festival at the Stoop

Quins welcome over 160 pupils from local schools to the home of Harlequins for the club’s first standalone girls rugby festival at the Stoop

To cap off a hugely successful season for the Harlequins Foundation and their work in growing participation and awareness of women’s and girl’s rugby in their local communities, Quins invited nine schools to participate in a competitive rugby festival on the Stoop pitch yesterday afternoon.

The event was organised as part of the Harlequins Foundation’s SWITCH programme, which seeks to bring girls into the sport by delivering sessions in and for local schools and developing youth coaching and mentoring skills via it’s Switch into Sport initiative.

Harlequins Ladies Co Head Coaches Gary Street and Karen Findlay were on hand to give their expertise at the event which was led by 10 Switch into Sport volunteers from Waldegrave School, supported by Foundation Coaches and teachers. The festival saw all 12 teams compete against each other, with the winners taking home a collection of signed shirts and VIP tickets to Harlequins Ladies’ first home match of the 2019/20 season.

Since its inception in 2016, the SWITCH Programme has brought over 300 girls to the sport, working with 11 local schools and five local clubs from Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston, Hounslow and the wider Surrey area.

Harlequins Ladies Co Head Coach Findlay said of the event: “It was amazing. To look around The Stoop and see that we have plenty of young girls trying and excelling at playing the game and also the young female officials who reffed it all. It was hugely positive morning with teachers really behind getting young girls to play the game and making strong links with the Club. It all reflects the Harlequins’ continued commitment it young people, and how they are inspiring the next generation of not only female athletes and coaches, but also referees.

“Awareness of and participation in women’s rugby continues to grow every year, and initiatives like SWITCH are crucial to generating a wider, more informed and passionate audience.”

Harlequins Head of Foundation Marc Leckie said: “SWITCH is all about introducing young women to the sport, encouraging fun, enjoyment and providing the opportunity to transition into local clubs and perhaps even Harlequins Ladies.

“Regardless of their levels of ability, today’s festival was a fantastic opportunity for girls to come down to The Stoop, have fun, and learn more about themselves, and we look forward to hopefully welcoming many of them to our summer camps later this year!”

“Harlequins has a core belief that women and girls should have the same opportunities to participate in the sport and that fundamentally the sport should be seen as rugby, not defined by anyone’s gender.

“We are immensely proud to be recognised as a leading voice in the development of the women’s game from grassroots up and pride ourselves on the work and investment both the Club and the Foundation have put in.”

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