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Raising standards

Building for success with the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Program

Kanisha Vincent on her love for rugby and what she hopes to achieve from her time in the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Program.

“Rugby just engulfed my life,” Kanisha Vincent says as she recounts the story of how she fell in love with the oval-ball game.

Kanisha was introduced to rugby when she attended a Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee youth camp in 2010. Having previously played netball, she was attracted by the aspects of both contact and running with the ball in hand that the new sport offered.

“We did some hockey and different things (at the camp), but rugby was just one of the things that really caught me. It looked like a lot of fun,” Kanisha says. “It just seemed very different from anything that I had done up until that point. I did try hockey for a bit, which was not for me, so rugby seemed like a new and interesting experience.”

Shortly after the camp finished, she joined the Royalians club in Port of Spain, and within two years had earned her place on the Trinidad and Tobago women’s sevens national team.

Encouraging change

The game has had a profound impact on Kanisha’s life off the pitch as well as on it and led her to pursue a career in sport.

Following the completion of a BSc degree in psychology, with minors in criminology and sociology, she decided to pursue a Master’s in sports performance at the University of Portsmouth.

Her year in England, during which she represented Harlequins Women in the inaugural Premier 15s season, proved to be the first step on her path into rugby administration.

On returning to Trinidad and Tobago, she vowed to help the country’s union set and raise standards for the women’s game. Retiring from playing in 2019, she is currently the chair of its selections committee.

Selection is an area of particular interest to Kanisha and has formed a key pillar of her work so far on the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Program.

“That is the area where it is most prudent for us to adjust in order to see a domino effect in other things,” she explains.

“If we set a standard and say that athletes need to be at a certain level of fitness in order to be part of our training teams, it means that our coaches and athletes understand that this is the level they need to be at – and they adjust. So, I think when we set standards, we encourage change in other areas.”

Kanisha was announced as one of 12 participants for 2022 last March, having been advised to apply by Trinidad and Tobago Rugby Union President, and program alum, Maria Thomas.

She has since completed Capgemini courses in Storytelling in Business and Building High-Performance Teams, and is working towards a third, Connected Manager.

“It’s exciting because it’s a different opportunity,” Vincent says about the program. “The courses were really good. I particularly enjoyed Storytelling in Business as it focused on how to connect your presentation, meeting, or conversation with stories that are impactful, that communicate the message you’re trying to convey and help you better connect with the audience. So, that was really useful.

“The Building High-Performance Teams course was as it sounds, and because our selection committee is a bit new in the iteration that it is now, it was good to have a better understanding of how to then build that out with what we have.”

Making connections

Kanisha’s time on the program also enabled her to make a host of important connections, not least in New Zealand last November.

Vincent attended the World Rugby Women in Rugby International Summit and Events, as well as the Rugby World Cup 2021 final at Eden Park. She then stayed on in Auckland for the IWG Conference, sharing an apartment with her former Trinidad team-mate Thomas and other past participants.

“Staying in the same house and having conversations about our experiences highlighted why the network itself is one of the biggest resources on the program,” Vincent says.

“It was amazing. Being a rugby fan, you always want to go to New Zealand because that is the home of rugby. We did get to go to the final – it was an incredible atmosphere being able to be there in the stadium.

“It was probably one of the best experiences of my life so far, being surrounded by so many rugby people from different avenues and people who do different things.

“Having those conversations, sharing how we all relate, and talking about the development of rugby around the world – it was a grounding and inspiring experience.”

Republished with permission from World Ruby.

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Global Partner of Women in Rugby and Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2021