GEORGE TOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS – World Rugby and Mastercard have unveiled the team of 2023 Youth Unstoppables, which this year includes 16-year-old winger Micah Leon from the Cayman Islands, following her nomination by the Cayman Rugby Union.
- World Rugby and Mastercard committed to changing the game for women in rugby
- Youth Unstoppables from six nations across each of the six regional associations ready to change the game and champion girls in rugby
- Youth Unstoppables digital content series, in partnership with Mastercard, will inspire the next generation of women’s rugby players and fans worldwide
- Cayman Islands’ Micah Leon selected to represent Rugby Americas North
- First episode in series launched on 20 April across World Rugby social channels
Micah joins players from Japan, Madagascar, Tonga, the Netherlands and Colombia as a Youth Unstoppable to celebrate the personality, power and impact of girls across the game as they continue to smash down barriers, challenge gender stereotypes and question social norms to advance the sport.
Women and girls represent the biggest growth opportunity in rugby – a sport that is truly for everybody – and sit at the heart of World Rugby’s strategy to grow the sport as a whole. Reflecting this mission, the Youth Unstoppables are raising the visibility of inspirational girls in rugby through rich storytelling that extends beyond the field of play.
Working in collaboration with the national unions where the Youth Unstoppables originate from and the six regional associations – Asia Rugby, Oceania Rugby, Rugby Africa, Rugby Americas North, Rugby Europe and Sudamérica Rugby – the series aims to inspire more girls to play and watch the sport by showcasing girls’ rugby as the ultimate and most diverse team sport, on and off the pitch, and how, through the power of togetherness and strong unity, a team is greater than the sum of its parts. As well as celebrating diversity, the global series focuses on the incredible personalities of the girls and the fun and friendships they enjoy because of the game.
The Youth Unstoppables will have their stories told through a digital content series, which premiered on World Rugby’s social channels on 14 April, with the hashtag #GirlsinRugby. The series will champion rugby influencers across a variety of platforms in order to inspire future fandom and participation growth. The first episode – due to go live on 20 April – will feature Micah Leon, a winger from the Cayman Islands national under-18 women’s team, whose energy and uplifting attitude spreads joy and inspires those around her, and who has found confidence, camaraderie and passion through playing rugby.
Cayman Female Rugby Manager, Mercedes Foy said: “Micah is an amazing rugby player who brings so much passion and energy into our Cayman rugby girls’ team. She is fearless and embraces every challenge with bravery. She is kind to her teammates, shows sportsmanship to the opposition and is an inspirational role model and leader to younger players. She has a very exciting rugby future ahead of her and I am looking forward to helping her grow and develop as a rugby player.”
World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox said: “Mastercard share our belief that women and girls represent the most powerful way to accelerate the growth of the sport, inspire fandom and reach new audiences. This inspirational group of Youth Unstoppables are the next generation of inspiring women’s rugby players and advocates of our sport worldwide. They embody not just rugby’s values, but values that resonate with young people on so many levels and will no doubt inspire women and girls worldwide to play and engage with the game as we look ahead to what will be the biggest-ever Rugby World Cup in 2025.”
Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar said: “At Mastercard, we strive to connect people around the world to their passions, their purpose – and to each other. Driving a more inclusive game of rugby is a perfect example of this. Women’s sports, including rugby, are seeing terrific momentum and have hit an inflection point of growth. Now is the time to celebrate and spotlight programmes like Youth Unstoppables that are helping more women and girls embrace this sport and connect with passions not previously possible.”
Rugby World Cup winner and Mastercard ambassador Maggie Alphonsi added: “Mastercard’s continued support of the Women in Rugby campaign is something I am proud to be a part of. Rugby has taught me so much in life and it is inspiring to see the passion and dedication of this year’s Youth Unstoppables class. As women’s rugby continues to grow its foothold in the global game, it is exciting to see the exponential growth. The importance of support from companies such as Mastercard simply cannot be overstated.”
A long-time supporter of the sport and women in rugby, Mastercard is the exclusive partner of the Youth Unstoppables campaign, in addition to being founding Global Partner of the Women in Rugby programme. The transformational five-year partnership will also see Mastercard continue as Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2025, founding partner of the World Rugby Pacific Four Series and the Global Partner of WXV, the annual global women’s competition due to start in October.
The Youth Unstoppables campaign forms part of World Rugby’s ambitious Accelerating the development of women in rugby 2017-25 strategic plan and builds on strong foundations, with young women and girls at the heart of a global rise in participation rates since the pandemic. Women and girls make up a quarter of all participants.