Part 1: Where it all began 🏉👌
The concept of didi rugby (although unnamed at that point) was always in my brain niggling at me to do something about it, to make more of a difference to young people and their families.. the idea of getting physical activity and the enjoyment of sport and exercise to more people.
I had always felt a little bit trapped in a school as a PE teacher.. not enough children to influence.. too many levels of management to get ideas passed through… seeing the bigger picture and not being able to have enough influence over it!
Unfortunately or I actually now believe FORTUNATELY (sorry Mum and Phil I so know this time was hideous) I had a significant event happen to me to make me stop, reflect and reframe my life direction! In November 2013 necrotising fasciitis came into my life and nearly took my life away! In a nut shell … I got an infection that meant one day I had what felt like a bruised shin bone, 36 hours later I was fighting for my life and my leg in intensive care !
In summary.. I nearly died, was 12 hours from a leg amputation and I was told the only reason I survived was because my heart was fit and strong.. so that day, everything changed! I had two little boys at home, a 4 month old and a 20 month old who were my world 🌎, a husband, and parents who were trying to hold it all together at home, and I realised what was important – family and a bigger purpose to help more people to be fit and healthy, so no one would die from infections that they should be able to fight! Everyone should be educated and encouraged to be fit and healthy from an early age… “didi rugby” had been born!
I kept visiting this in my mind.. researching around early years learning, reading around and interviewing key influencers around the subject of children and physical activity… I was at the time working as a PE teacher (Head of Physical Education) but also a School Sports Coordinator working with primary aged children in sport. This just cemented my vision that we needed to influence these children much younger than primary school , and actually educate and support parents to install these values and habits earlier in life.. 18 months or steady on their feet was the key to starting on the didi journey! didi sports was always the umbrella but I knew that to get didi out there it was through the tool of rugby we needed to utilise to do it – my PE teacher hat, being a Mum, ex England international rugby player and level 4 rugby coach all pointed towards rugby being the key driver. My youth and young adult life was filled with rugby, and the life it gave me in terms of fitness and health, personal achievement, travel, life long friendships was incredible.. I wanted more people to experience a taste of this.
I was extremely fortunate to have a few key people who gave me the confidence to get going on my didi rugby dream… My Mum – recently retired business woman and formerly in education, my husband who supported me to reduce my hours at work and follow my dreams, and Matt Cropp a good friend and local successful businessman who went in on the business with me providing me with the business acumen I needed to get going! Along with these guys.. an amazing network of friends and family who supported the journey.. encouraging me and sharing the concept far and wide.. I even practiced sessions with my friends children in the garden at mine – with permission to borrow them I should add. A first ever photo shoot with Max and Harry, and Matt’s two boys Preston and Myles (with Vicki Cropp on camera duty) inspired us to sit down and finally go for it – a conversation over a drink and a few notes on beer mats at Hinckley cricket club gave us the final push we needed to get going…
My young boys Max and Harry (now 11 and 10 years old) were the biggest didi rugby ambassadors- and I truly believe that all the time we spent on didi rugby.. in terms of their physical literacy and development, as well as social skills and learning to work with others.. 100% enabled my two to be the well rounded, sporty , bright kids that they are… Leicester City academy for my oldest boy with high performance in his SATs at end of key stage 2, and Hinckley Rugby Football, many on stage acting performances, and a very bright button for my youngest who absolutely loves to learn.
Oh yes I meant to say the name of didi rugby came from my swimming as a youth in the “Nuneaton diddy swimming league” under 12s competition … great memories of these times – didi meaning small meant a great name for 18 months – 6 years old !
In May 2015 didi rugby was officially born.. didi rugby Matt Cropp and my Mum Denise McCormack were behind me 100% working on the business start up, and Ben Avent my Redmoor colleague and rugby mate was in it from the start , assistant coaching with me .. so both of us as coaches, 8 children and based in the old clubhouse at Hinckley RFC was, and still is, the original home of didi rugby !
didi rugby was born! 🏉❤️🙏
See you soon for part 2!