As the USA Women’s Eagles compete in South Africa for their first venture with the WXV tournament, a familiar face has been in attendance as part of a new World Rugby coaching development program.
Karameli Faaee, the Rugby World Cup 2017 USA Captain and current New York Rugby Club Head Coach with the WPL, has been in camp with the USA squad for their tour of South Africa as part of the Gallagher High Performance Academy. Following on from the successful Rugby World Cup 2021 Coaching Internship Program, the academy forms part of the strategic plan to accelerate the coaching development of women in rugby and increase the competitiveness of Rugby World Cup 2025.
Faaee said of the overall experience, “Being able to learn and gain leadership experience with mentors on a World Rugby level has been amazing. I’m excited to take the tools I’ve gained and put them into my own toolkit. What’s helped is to have this support and to really feel that World Rugby is intentional about empowering women in the sport. It’s been a really great experience, I’m bummed it’s coming to an end this weekend but otherwise very excited for what is next.”
Established by World Rugby and Gallagher - an Official Partner of Women’s Rugby, WXV and RWC 2025 - the Academy offers a fully immersive development and leadership program, with the stated mission of increasing the prominence of female coaches at elite levels of the sport; to have a lasting impact on the women’s game. One of 16 participants in the program, Faaee has been fully embedded with the USA coaching staff, before and during WXV 2023. They are being given meaningful professional development opportunities, as well as gaining valuable experience of working in a high-performance sporting environment from the coaching and leadership standpoint.
Earning 13 caps with the USA Eagles and last playing as Captain in 2017, Faaee noted on being back in the National Team camp with a new role, “It’s been a lot of learning here, being in the same space but wearing a different hat. It’s been great to observe from all aspects, sitting with the coaches to hear their plans as well as Kate [Zackary] and the leadership group to see the different moving parts come together. I think that is the key here, how to bring the best out of the group in such a short period of time. What I have loved is the language, you can tell the coaches here care about the players and all sides feel comfortable to share and be authentic, while also being aligned in the vision. It has been great to witness and learn from.”
Off the field, participants have taken part in a series of online workshops, hosted by World Rugby, tailored to cover a variety of topics, ranging from game planning, tactics and skill development, to relationships, communication and creating the right culture. They are also receiving mentor support. Online workshops have been supported by Gallagher, sharing relevant, best practice learnings that are transferable from the world of global business. The program aims to develop existing coaching talent and identify new women coaches and other high performance roles in rugby, with the goal of improving the overall standard of the USA Women’s Eagles and women’s rugby around the world.