If you asked Tracy-Ann Hales about her passion for rugby, she wouldn’t regal you with a childhood story about falling in love with the sport at a young age. Actually, Tracy-Ann has never been a rugby player. Instead, she found rugby after joining the Jamaica Rugby Football Union as an office manager in 2015.
Tracy-Ann didn’t let her lack of rugby knowledge stand in her way. Instead, she dove into her new role headfirst, doing her best to learn about the sport. “I really love rugby’s core values, what it stands for, and the saying “rugby is a sport for all”. For me, rugby means inclusivity. Your culture, beliefs, knowledge, gender, size, and speed don’t matter. Equally, it doesn’t matter if you’re involved on the field or off. You feel like you are a family no matter what level you’re at.”
Fondly referred to as the MVP of the JRFU, Tracy-Ann ensures that the office is efficient and operational. This requires a large focus on book-keeping, and the administrative side of things, but Tracy-Ann is quick to adapt, fitting in to help where she can. “Being the only employee of the JRFU from August 2016 to December 2019, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the organization, leading me to become involved in major decision making and planning for the union.”
Reflecting on the best parts of her role, Tracy-Ann says it all comes back to the athletes. “What I enjoy most about my role is accomplishing our strategic goals, interacting with the athletes, hearing about their rugby experiences, and watching them play. It makes me want to work harder to ensure that Jamaica Rugby is still around for generations to come.”
Since 2015, Tracy-Ann has witnessed the growth of rugby in Jamaica, however, in her opinion there is still a lot more growing to do. “In some area’s rugby has grown, but it’s not where I want to see it when there is so much growth potential. I feel bitter-sweet when I think about where we are and where we could be if we had capitalized on crucial moments, but I am still proud of everything that our teams have accomplished.”
Looking to the future, Tracy-Ann is hopeful that the JRFU will be able to reach some big milestones. Among her list of goals, she is hopeful to secure a major sponsorship, host regional tournaments, improve training facilities, have rugby added to the Jamaica school curriculum, develop a player welfare programme and much more. Tracy-Ann is optimistic that with these improvements, JRFU will become the number one team in the region.