Steamboat rugby players travel to El Salvador to promote rough-and-tumble sport
August 1, 2017
This story originally ran in Steamboat Living magazine.
Taking scrums from Steamboat to El Salvador. That's the motto of locals Graham Muir and Rob Powers, who, through Powers' American300 organization, recently traveled to Central America to promote the rough-and-tumble sport of rugby.
"It's the first time the sport's ever been promoted down there," says Muir, who played and coached in Ireland and Chicago before moving to Steamboat, where he runs Manic Training. "They have a lot of soccer there, but no rugby."
While Powers' American300 nonprofit remains focused on military mentoring, its ONETEAM Envoy program works to spread diplomacy — in this case through rugby.
"To support our U.S. Armed Forces and Department of State service members, we have to promote friendships in the countries they live in," Powers says. "After four years of programming in El Salvador with their Olympic Committee’s family of sports, this time we chose to focus on their rugby federation. Rugby is now an Olympic sport, but their program is very infantile, with no organized youth programming."
The goal, he adds, is to help the country's rugby numbers grow. To do so, the gridiron evangelists spent four days coaching and visiting villages to introduce rugby into local sports systems. But like dodging would-be tacklers, it wasn't easy.
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"Sport in general is not real huge down there," Muir says. "The mentality is different. But we did see some positive outcomes in the villages."
Adds Powers, "We’re blessed to have volunteers like Graham, and others from Steamboat, to help with the positive work we’re so committed to. This is the first time we've slanted it toward rugby down there, but the push should really help make a difference."