Natasha Olsen keen to use Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Programme to grow game in Brazil
We caught up with the former Brazil international to discuss her life in rugby and journey to becoming a female leader.
Kamana Giri cannot be accused of seeking a quiet life as she attempts to increase opportunities for women to play rugby in Nepal.
Giri is vice-chair of the Nepal Rugby Association’s (NRA) Women’s Development Committee and is also the organisation’s media manager.
Both of those roles are voluntary and Giri fulfils them around her full-time job as a Human Resources (HR) officer and studying for a master’s degree.
It means that she often rises early at her home in Kathmandu, attending lectures before starting work at 10am.
Once she logs off there, her attention turns officially to her NRA commitments – although she admits that rugby dominates her thoughts almost 24/7.
That assertion is backed up by the fact that she took on an extra responsibility this year when, in March, she earned a place on the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Programme.
“As soon as I saw the email drop into my inbox, I screamed out loud and I was like, ‘Is it for real?’” Giri told World Rugby.
“For some time it was really hard for me to believe. But then, I just went with the flow and it just feels like a dream because I never thought I would be getting this opportunity from rugby itself.”
Remarkably, given her obvious passion for the game, Giri has never played rugby herself. She was, though, introduced to it while studying at university in Australia six years ago.
It was during her time in Australia that she also met the President of the NRA for the first time, and having returned to Nepal following graduation, she contacted him to see how she could help.
“I got in touch with him, and they were actually trying to grow the game at different places in Nepal,” she said.
“I happened to meet a few youths from Chitwan who were already into different kinds of games, so we introduced them to rugby and did our best to keep them motivated towards rugby and founded a team which is called Chitwan Warriors Rugby Club, which was one of the first clubs to be founded outside Kathmandu Valley.
“So, the club was doing good and having been a founder chairperson of the club, I worked there for almost two years.”
Giri then returned to Kathmandu, where she began working for the NRA as a media manager and, in the past year, vice-chair of the Women’s Development Committee, which meets at least once a month.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Giri also hosted a live chat show, which focused on rugby and other sports and was streamed via Facebook Live on Saturdays, supposedly her sole day off.
“When you think you want to do something and when you have that feeling in your head that I've got to do this, I think you manage time,” she said. “There are no boundaries!”
Giri is planning to conduct two study tours later this year as part of the Women in Rugby Leadership Programme.
She will travel to France, and potentially England, where her mentor is based, in October before heading to New Zealand the following month for the IWG World Conference on Women & Sport.
Earlier this month, Giri also flew to Indonesia for the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy in Jakarta. She accompanied the Nepal women’s national team, who finished seventh, and also got an opportunity to view the tournament from an organisational perspective.
“I do not have enough words to explain the excitement but it's also stressful because everything has to be planned,” Giri said.
“It’s hectic, overwhelming, but then exciting at the same time.”
Giri hopes to use the skills she learns and develops on the Women in Rugby Leadership Programme to help encourage more women in administration roles in Nepal.
When she first started working with the union, she would often be the only woman in meetings attended by up to 25 men.
She was also the youngest and says that “initially I used to feel left out and at times”. That began to change after a couple of meetings, and after she had started her talk show, and she came to see her presence in the meetings as an opportunity.
“I became happy about it at some point because I thought, ‘okay, now there's a female coming in so we can bring in more females’,” she explained.
“But it also struck me because [we had] no females at the administration level, so this is why I was how I was with this.
“I got chances to do various online courses like child safeguarding and media workshops. So, that also made me involved here because at the end of the day, I was learning and I was growing at the same time.”
Looking ahead, Giri says she is “confident the rugby we have in Nepal has a good a future”. It is one she hopes to be a part of.
Giri added: “The investment that the association is putting on me, the supportive team from Asia Rugby and World Rugby, they’re just motivating me to improve myself… eventually to make me a leader that maybe people will look up to.”