Q&A with TIRF Intern Alissa Zhang

Alissa Zhang has been working with the Toronto Inner-City Rugby Foundation since June 2016 as a Rugby Development Intern. As a Rookie Rugby Certified instructor, her work has included traveling to schools, community centres, and camps across the city teaching Rugby Canada’s Rookie Rugby Programming to youth ages 6 – 12. Along with our other dedicated interns, Alissa has also been running free house leagues where kids can practice their new skills on a weekly basis.

Last month, a number of our interns, along with Alissa, accompanied 60 boys and girls from the Regent Park Community Centre to Nathan Phillips square to send off the Canadian National Women’s team to Rio. We asked her about her experience.


What was it like meeting the Women’s team before they were sent off to the 2016 Olympics? 

It was so surreal meeting the Canadian Women’s 7s team. After following them on social media and aspiring to be them for around 4 years, meeting them and talking to them was indescribable. All the players, coaches and staff were super down to earth and eager to strike up a conversation. I was able to meet my heroes and take lots of pictures and get their autographs. It was one of the highlights of my entire summer.

Why was it so great? 

Meeting my rugby inspirations and chatting with them was the highlight of the send off. I was able to meet the real women behind the TV and computer screen in the rugby games. After watching countless hours of rugby and following their progress on the global stage, meeting them in person was surreal. 

Has it impacted your attitudes towards Rugby at all?

It really solidified my love for the sport. It made me excited to not only watch them in the Olympics, but made me super excited to see where rugby takes me. They told me about their rugby stories growing up, playing for their school, club and province. This really showed the clear path that anyone interested in rugby can take to get to the national level and compete in the Olympics one day. 


Left to right: Amanda Sussman (TIRF Intern), Jen Kish (Canadian Women’s Rugby Team Captian), Alissa Zhang (TIRF Intern)

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