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Project Rugby: Tiara shooting for the stars

Tiara Brown fondly remembers the first time she picked up a rugby ball, under the watchful eye of the Community Foundation coaches during a Project Rugby lesson at Bristol Free School.

Fast forward four years and the athletic back row forward - now captain at North Bristol RFC, a member of the Bristol Bears Centre of Excellence and recently named in the England U18 training squad - is grateful for the programme and the coaches that introduced her to a sport she is now targeting as a full-time career.

“From the minute I picked up the rugby ball in that first Project Rugby session, I fell in love with the sport,” says Tiara. “I just loved the energy, the physicality, the teamwork and I knew from that moment it was something I wouldn’t to do a lot more of.

“Since then, my love for rugby has grown and it’s all down to Project Rugby and the Community Foundation coaches. I’ve got big ambitions in the sport – I want to do this as a job in the future but I know I’ve got a long way to go. But to be able to have that as a target is very special.”

Rich Hynes divides his coaching time between the Community Foundation and running the Bears Women Centre of Excellence – and he knew from the very first session that Tiara had the potential to achieve higher honours in her newfound sport.

“From the minute I picked up the rugby ball in that first Project Rugby session, I fell in love with the sport. I just loved the energy, the physicality, the teamwork and I knew from that moment it was something I wanted to do a lot more of."

Tiara Brown

“I remember the first few sessions with Tiara at Bristol Brunel Academy – as soon as we switched to contact, there weren’t very many people who wanted to be on the opposite team to her,” says Hynes.

“She was such a natural from the minute I threw her the ball. Tiara is an incredible athlete and if she keeps working hard in the Bears Centre of Excellence setup, she could have a big future.

“This is why programmes like Project Rugby are so important – it’s taken a young girl from inner-city Bristol, who has never even considered that she could play rugby and transformed her dreams and ambitions.”

Tiara’s mother, Annette Blake, has seen the change in her daughter since her rugby journey began and praised the Community Foundation, Centre of Excellence and Project Rugby for inspiring her.

“Tiara is more confident, driven and disciplined since she began playing rugby. I had never watched the sport before, but from the minute she started playing, I’ve been her biggest fan, jumping up and down on the touchline.”

It’s another big season for Tiara as she targets a place in the final England U18 squad and sets her sights on kicking on further in the Bears setup. But whatever happens, Tiara and her family will be forever grateful to the coaches and programme that introduced her to rugby.


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