Bridgetown, Barbados – Barbados might be a small island, but there’s no shortage of beauty, brains and brawn on this nation’s rugby pitches.
Just ask 18-year-old Jara Emtage-Cave, one of the island’s most promising up-and-coming women’s players, who not only loves a good tackle but has also just been accepted into Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States; a once in a lifetime opportunity for this articulate rugger.
SETTING THE BAR HIGH
Humble, yet highly-driven, Emtage-Cave began her rugby career six years ago at secondary school and has quickly moved up the local ranks to now represent her country playing fly-half for the Barbados Women’s 7s team. Despite her age, she has already played for the Toronto Nomads in Canada, as well as for Barbados in numerous international tournaments, including at the Rugby Americas North (RAN) 7s in 2018 and RAN 10s in 2019.
To add to this, Emtage-Cave impressively won ‘Back of the Match’ in her first ever international game against Trinidad in 2016 and was chosen as one of the Barbados team captains for the Youth Olympic Games qualifying tour in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2018, demonstrating that this bright young lady’s standards are set high.
It’s no surprise then, that when it came to applying for tertiary positions last year, ambitious Emtage-Cave chose one of the top three universities in the world to try her luck at being accepted into.
THE WORLD AT HER FINGERTIPS
After getting a taste of Harvard campus life during a summer program in Quantum Chemistry, Emtage-Cave says she knew instantly that she fit in at the Massachusetts–based university, however she admits to having some reservations about applying.
“I absolutely loved the summer course I completed at Harvard, but I never thought I would realistically be able to study there full-time,” she says. “I knew it was hard to get into, but I also knew how much I had enjoyed my time, studies and the people there, so I just thought I would give it a try.”
So, when Emtage-Cave received her acceptance letter, she was completely overwhelmed. “I broke down in tears. I am just so excited to study in such an amazing academic environment. It still feels surreal – like, is this really happening?” she laughs.
Come September (pending COVID-19 restrictions), not only will Emtage-Cave commence a Bachelor of Science at Harvard, but this die-hard rugger has confirmed she is already signed up for the college Rugby team and ready to play as soon as she arrives. “I can’t wait to meet the team and get some consistent matches under my belt!”
BUILDING WOMEN’S RUGBY IN BARBADOS
Aside from her obvious excitement to be heading off to enjoy rugby and academic life overseas, Emtage-Cave says she is looking to use her newly-honed skills to grow the game and community back on home soil.
“I would really like to utilise this experience to help get more girls involved in rugby in Barbados,” she says. “Also, because there is not much 15s women’s rugby on the island, I would like to explore more of this in the USA so I can bring home the knowledge and help expand our level of playing diversity for girls.”
Emtage-Cave says this passion to give back to the sport locally stems from her deep love of the rugby community. “It’s like one big family,” she says. “Everyone is so welcoming and no matter what you look like, where you’re from, or how big or small you are, you’re always included!”
And, there’s no doubt the rugby community loves her too. National Director of Get Into Rugby Barbados, Kevyn Murrell, says Emtage-Cave is not only a great rugby player, but an absolute joy to be around and a wonderful addition to any team, both locally and abroad.
“Jara is intelligent, hard-working, positive and always willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals,” he says. “Rugby Barbados could not be prouder of Jara, and we are eager to watch her next steps both in the academic world and on the rugby field”.
When asked about her future, Emtage-Cave says she is still exploring her options however is confident she will pursue post-graduate studies, potentially also at Harvard. As for rugby, she is firmly set on becoming the captain of the national women’s team in Barbados as well as a potential career in coaching.
Wherever the road takes her, one thing is for sure – the sky is the limit for Jara Emtage-Cave!
Contact the BRFU firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the BRFU Facebook page @rugbybarbados.
EDITOR’S NOTE: At the time of publishing, Jara had decided to defer her admission to Havard for one year due to COVID-19 protocols which restrict 1st year international students from studying on campus at the university. She will now commence her studies in September 2021.