The pause in international sport has certainly not slowed down Sudamérica Rugby as it launched its first Female Coaches Academy last Friday, with 21 representatives from its fifteen member unions enrolling.
Lead by Martín Bassino and Daniel Hourcade, Training and Education and High Performance Managers respectively, over thirteen sessions until the end of the year, future coaches will learn what it takes to run a team.
“The goal that we set out for with Sudamérica Rugby is to help with making the game better in the region, fully committed to giving women more opportunities on the playing-side of rugby," explains Bassino.
“We want to build capacity with women in the region that have the potential to push participation and growth under our high standards, utilising the weapons provided and being multiplying agents within their countries."
The academy uses programs and protocols from World Rugby focused on Women's Development and a competition cycle for 2022-25 of fifteens rugby. Participants in the academy first had to complete multiple online courses from the international federation.
Hourcade leads a group of coaches that includes SAR's HP consultants Pablo Bouza and Emiliano Bergamaschi, World Rugby Council member and former Colombian captain Alejandra Betancur and Bassino. There will also be invited speakers.
“Friday was a good start," says Hourcade about the initial session which focused on "introducing the academy, getting to know each other and setting out the goals."
Fifteens rugby is starting to take shape in a region where sevens was traditionally the format for women. With Brazil a leading light in sevens, Colombia will represent the region in the qualifying road to Rugby World Cup 2021, to be played in New Zealand.
“We will be working in groups with the clear goal of building capacity amongst women so that they become coaches and more women take up leading roles. From what we've seen, there are different standards but what is important is that the weapons we provide will be of good use in each country and that participants are able to multiply the knowledge they obtain with us at the Academy."
Since the introduction of High Performance in Sudamérica Rugby, there have been three previous Coaching Academies and a Refereeing Academy. Participating in the new Women's Coaching Academy are: Tamara Sebastiani and Sara James (Argentina), Paola Alejandra Peña Rojas (Bolivia), Rafaela Turola and Lariane Puper (Brazil), Ursula Karina Alvarez Mandiola and Gissel Alejandra Castañeda Isla (Chile), Lissette Carolina Martinez and Alejandra Betancur (Colombia), Natalie Rojas (Costa Rica), Vanessa Panchana Pita (Ecuador), Claudia Contreras (El Salvador), Melanie Azucena García (Guatemala), Vivian Chacón (Honduras), Yennis Sanhouse (Panamá), Paula Lorena Denis Mario and Lucero Magalí Viveros Martínez (Paraguay), Beatriz Orcotoma (Peru), Luciana Iribarren and Valentina Almeda (Uruguay) and Yulieth Lartigues (Venezuela).