The legacy of community involvement by way of sports continues at Vide Bouteille Cultural Club (VBCC) through Stingers Rugby Team.
As one of the oldest clubs on the island, VBCC was bold enough to embrace a non-traditional sport in Saint Lucia. Stingers Rugby Team came about in 2016 when then Club Secretary Signa President presented the idea to the Executive Committee. During that time, VBCC was only actively represented by VBCC Warlords in the basketball scene. After careful consideration and planning, the go signal was given and as the cliché goes the rest was history.
In its first season, Stingers Rugby Team was trailblazers. It was the fastest growing team in comparison to two other local rugby clubs. Stingers had full squads of men and women teams winning most, if not all, the local rugby tournaments at the time. Team spirit was at its highest and the bond among players were both admired and envied by other clubs.
As in any grouping, conflict arose and this resulted in the team splitting halfway in its first season. Unfortunately, the split was not quite in the middle which left Stingers with only a few women barely completing a 7s squad. A tough period, especially for the Management Committee of the team, Stingers had to lick its wounds for a while before deciding on the way forward.
The Management Committee regrouped and after taking inventory of what they had, started actively searching for what they needed – members who will buy into the values of club life and not just players on the field. A new coach in Mr Garner Felicienwas recruited and scouted for talent and interested persons in many different ways. Stingers Rugby Team sat out a few local tournaments and continued to rebuild albeit slowly because as the saying goes once bitten twice shy.
Fastfoward to 2017, Stingers Rugby Team registered for a new season. Although still a bit shaken from the massive disappointment of the previous year, Stingers bit the bullet and went in despite not having as many members as ideal. To everyone’s ample surprise, Stingers Rugby Team rose from the ashes with the Stingers Men’s Team winning the 2017 LUCELEC Michael Mathurin Rugby Challenge and the Women’s Team successfully represented St Lucia at an invitational Women’s 7s tournament in Guadeloupe. Both men and women teams marvelously represented VBCC at all the local tournaments with many of the members qualifying to represent St. Lucia at Barbados 7s. 5 out of the 9 National Men’s team were Stingers while 7 Lady Stingers composed the 12 member National Women’s team.
Stingers took on the challenge set by the St Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) for clubs to adopt a school and teach rugby to school children as part of the “Get Into Rugby Program”. Stingers Rugby Team decided a school was not enough and made the move to adopt the community of La Clery. The Bees started with four girls coached by two senior female rugby players. After a few weeks of running drills under the scorching sun of La Clery Playing Field every Saturday morning, the Bees finally started receiving some nods from the community. These girls are quite into these oblong balls, they most likely thought.
Some of the boys from around the area soon got curious and joined in and this has been the story of the Bees every Saturday. A child sees a bunch of children having fun with the oblong ball and they join. After six months, the Bees now have a core group of 25 children ages ranging from 4 to 13 years, 2 new volunteer coaches, 15 pairs of donated rugby boots from Brown University Mens Rugby Team and training shirts sponsored by LUCELEC through SLRFU plus an upcoming exhibition game at the finals of a local tournament in May.
Stinger Rugby Team has come a long way and still hasmuch to go. Through its ups and downs, one thing remains true for this team passion is contagious especially when it’s genuine. The senior team continues to train on the La Clery Playing Field Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:00 pm while the Bees takes on the field every Saturday morning from 10: 00 a.m.