#MunsterStartsHere Video Series | The Flemings
18th May 2023 By The Editor
The #MunsterStartsHere video series has returned for this season and once again highlights the fantastic work that goes on behind the scenes to develop the game across the province.
The videos showcase the key roles played by clubs, schools, volunteers and development officers when ensuring the growth of age-grade structures and community programmes.
The Flemings from Tipperary feature in our third #MunsterStartsHere video of the season.
This season’s campaign focuses on families in Munster who are involved in grassroots rugby from either a playing or volunteering point of view (or both).
The Fleming family are heavily involved in rugby with volunteering, coaching and playing all being a part of their everyday lives.
The family first started getting involved in rugby when the Fleming’s eldest daughter, Katelyn, began playing rugby with Cashel RFC.
From there, Katelyn’s mother Kathleen started volunteering with Carrick-on-Suir RFC when her two youngest daughters, Ciara and Aoife, began playing with the club.
“When I started here first, I was like a normal parent, just came in here, sat in the car and watched them training and I was given the role then of Girls Officer,” Kathleen told Munster Rugby.
“I looked at the numbers, there was about 14 or 15 girls here at the time and I said, ‘Well, it’s either those girls go through and that’s it then for Carrick-on-Suir Rugby Club’ or I do something about it.
“The Give It A Try started in 2017 so I got involved with that and I went around to all the schools, advertising in all the schools, giving taster sessions inside some of the schools as well and brought my girls with me.
“We had 30 odd girls in the first year, we had 60 in the second year and we had nearly 90 girls in the third year. We also went down to the Direct Provision Centre and I had a chat with the people down there and they brought down over 40 girls. We ran a bus and they came down here and had a fantastic time.”
As Kathleen explains, rugby has been very beneficial for her family, not just from the obvious benefits that come with exercise but also the development of skills that can be used in all aspects of life.
“As a family, we all benefit. I think rugby has given back more to us than what we have given to them. I’ve been volunteering now for seven years or so and not only to my own three girls. It has been fantastic for not only just rugby skills but life skills, confidence, the commitment, working as a team.
“For all of them, decision making, confidence has grown and leadership as well. It’s just fantastic. All of the qualities and all of the skills that you can bring into life and into their jobs and further on. It’s not just on the rugby field at all. It’s fantastic.”
#MunsterStartsHere Video Series | The Flemings
Ciara echoes her mother’s sentiments as she focuses on the friends she has made from playing the sport.
“I think rugby has definitely helped our confidence,” Ciara said. “It’s such an inclusive sport. I’ve made friends for life and they’ll always be there.”
Katelyn, who this season played for Ballincollig RFC in the Women’s All Ireland League, believes the sport has brought the Flemings closer as a family.
“I think rugby has just brought us together closer as a family as well,” Katelyn said.
“It’s such an inclusive sport. We’re always outside playing. There’s always a rugby ball in hand or a trophy up on the mantlepiece or something like that.”
Kathleen also highlights the importance of the wider rugby family and how volunteering has resulted in her making friends throughout the province and further afield.
“Fantastic memories,” Kathleen said.
“Not only have the girls made some fantastic friends but I’ve actually made friends. No matter what club I go to or wherever I go, I know somebody and I’ve made a few friends from the time that Katelyn was on the Munster U18s and that’s a good few years ago. We’re still friends today. We go everywhere. All I can say is, the whole rugby experience for us is not just for our family because we have an extended family now and no matter where we go, we’ve friends and it’s just fantastic.”
With Kathleen’s experience of her own club and those she has visited throughout Munster, she explains the importance of volunteerism and how having volunteers are so important to the lifeblood of a club.
“Sometimes I say it’s my last year but when I look on the field and I see all of the girls out there laughing, having fun and that’s when I say, ‘Yeah, it’s worth it, it was all worth it.”
Kathleen adds: “Without volunteers in each club, we don’t have a club. For both the girls and the boys side of here, it’s parents that are the volunteers and without them, we wouldn’t have rugby. Boys or girls wouldn’t have rugby in the club and that goes the same for every club in Ireland.”
You can also watch our previous #MunsterStartsHere videos from this season below.
#MunsterStartsHere Video Series – The Hehirs
#MunsterStartsHere Video Series – The Cournanes