For one Chinese girl, an Olympic dream continues at Harvard.

Originally from Shanghai, Sofie Fella is studying psychology and economics at the famed American educational establishment but continues to impress in her short rugby career. She plays Varsity D1 Rugby, having only started playing rugby ‘for fun’ in high school.

“I never thought about applying to Harvard until the beginning of my senior year and even then I did it without thinking I would get in,” said Fella.

“I am extremely grateful to study here because it’s a great place to balance both academics and rugby.

“The team, coaching staff, teachers, and people you meet here are really supportive and caring, which helps a lot when moving to the US all the way from Shanghai.”

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Goal-setting

It wasn't long before Fella, who has a German father and a Chinese mother, impressed on a rugby field. She was selected to compete as part of an all-star team in her first tournament in the US and spent time travelling between China and America to compete in tournaments like the Las Vegas Invitational.

“During my summers I would train with residency programmes such as the American Rugby Pro Training Centre and the Atavus Academy Sevens,” added Fella. “I found that playing with older players every day during the summer really helped me improve.

“I also competed with the Germany U18 Sevens team at the European Championships in Andorra which was a great experience.

“Now I play at the collegiate level and I love it. Before rugby, I would bounce from hobby to hobby, never sticking with one. It has played a huge role in my life, giving me something to love and be motivated for.

“The sport has given me the ability to set goals and achieve them as well as set dreams for the future. I’m super grateful to have found this sport and I love everything about it.”            

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Having fallen in love with the sport, Fella continues her rugby journey at Harvard and has always ‘dreamed of playing rugby in the Olympics or the World Series’.

She is not yet clear whether she chase her international ambitions with Germany or China.

“For now, I am focusing just on improving and being the best rugby player I can be and I’ll let the future play out and see what happens.”

Growing the game

And with the first-ever Rugby World Cup taking place in the continent she grew up in, the opportunities for Asia are huge in 2019.

“Having a Rugby World Cup in Asia is a huge step in growing rugby into a world sport,” explained Fella.

“Coming from an Asian country myself, I know what it’s like to not be able to find club teams or high-level training opportunities close to me. I’d have to fly to the US to compete with teams there or go to summer programmes there.

“Our high school season only lasted two months and I went looking for more opportunities to play high-level rugby throughout the year, but didn’t find many options.

“Hosting an event like the World Cup will help increase the interest in the sport in Asia and hopefully generate more supporters and more players.”

 Photos: Harvard Athletic Communications