Vicky’s Blog: “My 2020 felt like it lasted about three years!”

Vicky Macqueen and her team at the launch of didi rugby Worcester with PPE on

didi founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen opens up on an incredible 2020 which has brought untold challenges – but many rewards.

I don’t know about you, but it seems like this year has lasted about three years.

I guess it’s because of the amount of challenges we have faced during the pandemic in 2020, both from a personal and business perspective. Three years’ worth of challenges to overcome…in 12 months.

I am 100% certain I am not alone in feeling that way.

Lost loved ones

Being involved in such a public-facing business as didi rugby, I am fortunate enough to meet some lovely people every week. From speaking to mums, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents, I have heard stories of struggles and difficulties. People have lost their jobs and, even worse, people have lost loved ones too.

The low point of my year came with ongoing grief of the loss of a loved one. Not to Covid – but to cancer. My beautiful niece Jess passed away in late 2019 after a short battle with a very aggressive cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. It is extremely rare in children but she was just nine years old. It was a devastating blow to my family and it has been hard to bounce back in 2020. I’m determined to do what I can to stop other families going through what we have been through and ran the London Marathon to start raising money for research into the condition.

Vicky Macqueen goes through the finishing line after running a marathon
Vicky Macqueen goes through the finish line after running a marathon

The wonderful team here at didi helped me through those tough times and we went on to face many more challenges as a business when the pandemic began to take a hold.

Instead of sitting still when the first national lockdown came about, we quickly developed an online outlet to host our classes. Across the country, our coaches were able to see their didi stars every week. And parents and children alike bought into the ‘new normal’ that we were all trying to get used to. It was great to see and we were able to share some lovely pictures and videos of front rooms, kitchens and gardens being turned into didi classrooms!

Social distancing in 2020

I would like to thank every parent for their help and support during that difficult time. It really meant a lot.

When the Government allowed us to go back to classes with social distancing and reduced numbers, it was important for us not just to tell parents that our covid-safe measures were in place but to show them too.

I remember filming a video which took parents through every step of our measures before, during and after a class and thinking we would have to keep innovating and developing what we did as we welcomed people back.

A coach and child have fun at a didi rugby class
A coach and child have fun at a didi rugby class

That was a really rewarding time to be the CEO of this business. Not only were parents and children supportive and delighted to be back outside, mixing and having fun but our coaches up and down the country were coming up with new ideas every week. They were truly inspirational as work mates and it was great to be a part of.

We shared ideas on best-practice, safety and ways to do new things in classes with reduced numbers. They say ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’ and this spell certainly proved that.

The numbers in our classes grew as the year went on and restrictions dwindled. Thankfully, we were able to continue classes during Lockdown 2.

We also managed to launch new 2020 franchises in places like Walsall, Leicester, Harrogate, and England star Alex Matthews started classes at didi rugby Worcester.

Alex Matthews, wearing didi rugby kit, laughs
didi rugby Worcester head coach Alex Matthews

There is still clearly some way to go until we are over this pandemic. But with a vaccine being rolled out across the country, there is certainly a great deal of hope in 2021.

I am excited about what lies ahead. didi rugby will continue to grow and I am more determined than ever to spread the values of fun, confidence and activity to as many children aged between 18 months and 6 years old as possible. After the year they have had, it’s crucial to keep our kids active.

As parents, coaches, children…humans, we have been resilient, agile, empathetic and compassionate to one another.

If we can all take that into 2021, I am certain better things are just around the corner.

Read more: Listen to the brand new didi rugby pod

WATCH: Take on one of Vicky’s ‘Lockdown Challenges’…


BLOG: We all have a part to play in helping our kids recover from lockdown

A graphic showing that 71% of young people say that physical activity improves their mood

We all have a role to play in making sure our children recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, says didi rugby CEO, Vicky Macqueen.

Thankfully, the vast majority of children seem to only get mild symptoms, if any at all, if they get infected by the virus.

But they have most certainly endured long-lasting effects to both their mental and physical health by missing almost half a year of their schooling, as well as being cooped up inside for large parts of that time with few places to burn off their energy.

As a former teacher myself, I have seen at first hand for many years how physically inactive children can sometimes struggle inside a classroom, both with their attainment, confidence and behaviour.

Physical activity

Of course, I am generalising here. As the CEO of a company like didi rugby, I am also clearly biased. Hands up.

But there are few people who could argue that physical activity gets kids moving, gets their heart rate up, improves their fitness and can make them more alert when inside a classroom.

So it was no surprise to see some new research from Sheffield Hallam University showing just how much of a benefit activity can have on school age children.

At didi rugby and for me as an RFU Level 4 coach, qualified PE teacher and Early Learning provider, I really believe we do generally underestimate how much a young child can gain from being physically active from a much earlier age.

A poster saying that 78% of people say they enjoy being physically active

It becomes imbedded in them and, part of their DNA, to feel good, happy and confident after exercise. They don’t necessarily know why and they don’t know how, but they know they feel good.

It’s not only kids that benefit. Parents have reported the same feelings after didi classes themselves. One of our major aims across the UK is to educate and support families to all feel better, healthier and more confident in life by taking part in our sessions. The positive effects of physical activity are absolutely massive!

The huge Sheffield Hallam study was on more than 60,000 students and 4,000 teachers and surveyed attitudes to work, physical and mental health.

The researched showed, in many different ways, that helping young people get active can play a vital role in helping them catch up on work missed during the Covid-19 pandemic and in supporting their mental health too.

Fun and activity

The report shows that 92% of staff believed that being physically active helps with school work, while 91% of students felt that physical activity can improve their mental and physical health.

That is fairly unequivocal isn’t it?

Now the national lockdown has ended (and let’s hope it doesn’t need to return) and organised children’s educational sports classes are being backed by the Government, let’s make the most of it.

All of our didi classes are dedicated to getting children that fun and activity they need to keep them fit and active, to get endorphins flowing around their body, get them laughing, interacting with other children their own age and giving them quality fun time with parents, who have had a tough time as well over the last seven months.

My passion is to make everyone’s life a little bit better and even more so now!

Read all about the Sheffield Hallam report here:

Read more: England international Alex Matthews is excited to launch didi rugby Worcester

VIDEO: Engaged parents getting active with didi rugby to help us fight viruses…

didi rugby booming after ‘survive then thrive’ planning

didi rugby CEO Vicky Macqueen

Founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen has paid tribute to children, parents, carers, coaches and franchise owners who have helped didi rugby bounce back from lockdown and now be in a position where classes across the UK are ‘absolutely booming’.

With regular classes filling up rapidly, areas in places like Sutton Coldfield and Stafford have even added extra sessions to meet demand.

Similarly, the launch of a new didi rugby area in Harrogate, set for September 19, has over 100 children booked in for what is set to be an exciting and busy day.

“It has been astonishing,” said Vicky. “The demand we have seen for our provision has gone through the roof and it has been amazing for our local coaches to see the smiling faces of the children they were entertaining via Zoom during lockdown.

Children play at a didi rugby class
Children play at a didi rugby class

“We spoke as a group of coaches and franchises on a regular basis during lockdown planning our recovery when restrictions had died down. We discussed putting ourselves into a position where we could ‘survive then thrive’ when we were allowed to go back to face-to-face delivery.

“The planning and detail that went into our return was thorough and I would like to thank all of those involved in getting didi rugby classes back up and running and all parents and children who have been quick to trust our safety measures and return to outdoor classes with a smile on their face.”

Indoor and outdoor didi classes came to a dramatic halt – like most other things in the country – when PM Boris Johnson placed the country under lockdown in March.

But local didi coaches across the UK did an amazing job of maintaining engagement with their young stars and parents with online sessions during lockdown.

Classes booming

And since restrictions were lifted, didi HQ were very quick to re-start classes with social distancing and COVID cleanliness at the top of the agenda.

As restrictions have eased, didi classes around the country have seen an incredible influx of interest from parents who are looking for a safe environment to bring their child for some much-needed fun and activity.

With didi cricket also launching in selected areas too, Vicky says she has been overwhelmed by the support of franchise owners and coaches who have committed to returning to class delivery as soon as possible – and the way they have tackled a challenging situation to provide fun and activity for children in their areas.

Get active

And having home-schooled her own two young children through the lockdown period, Vicky says she has since met so many people who were delighted to be able to get out and get active with their kids.

“We have all been in the same boat haven’t we? Stuck inside our four walls with children who were desperate to do what kids do best – get outside, playing and having fun,” added Vicky.

“It has been a tough period for us all as parents but we have come out on the other side and didi rugby – and cricket for that matter – are absolutely booming as a result of some great commitment from our didi team and our parents and children. There are exciting times ahead.”

Read more: Extra sessions laid out for Harrogate launch due to incredible demand. 

WATCH: One of Vicky Macqueen’s ‘Lockdown Challenges’…