Laiba’s Story

Kingsley Academy was selected by The Harlequins Foundation team to be a part of the Premiership Rugby Programme, Project Rugby.

Project Rugby is designed to increase participation in the game by people from traditionally underrepresented groups:

  • Black Asian & Minority Ethnic People
  • People from Lower Socio-Economic backgrounds
  • Disabled People

This time last year, Foundation Development Officer, James Collins-Clark, gave the school 6 weeks of free delivery where we up-skilled the students on their knowledge and core skills. Amazingly the students took to the sport with huge enthusiasm no more so than Laiba Rahman.

Laiba had never played rugby before and like her now good friend Rebekah Elsdon, has gone onto do great things within our sport, transitioning into her local rugby club Grasshoppers RFC and is now representing her county, Middlesex!

Before last year, Laiba would bounce between sports like taekwondo and boxing but never really stayed put until we delivered Project Rugby into Kingsley Academy. Her mum Zahida says, “In the past Laiba considered playing rugby but didn’t know how too and when her teacher announced that there would be rugby in P.E. lessons delivered by The Harlequins Foundation she was so excited and really looked forward to each lesson.”

Laiba really took to the sport and never missed a P.E. lesson and when we announced that we would run an after-school club she was one of the first students to sign up and really put her all into each session and had fun doing so. We set up a HUB at the local rugby club which is a stepping stone to be up-skilled enough for the participants to join their local team and Laiba, loving her rugby, was one of the 1st participants to join and we at The Harlequins Foundation couldn’t be more proud.

We asked her mum Zahida a couple of questions and here is what she has to say:

Q) Has playing rugby had a positive effect on Laiba?

A) “I have noticed that Laiba is much more happier and calmer than before and has finally found a sport that truly makes her happy as she feels like she now has a sense of belonging.”


Q) What difference has rugby made to Laiba’s life?

A) “Laiba now has something to look forward to every week, she feels as though she has a purpose and is determined to get better and better each training session. She is continuously striving for more in order to  get closer towards her goals each day. You will definitely see her in the future.”


Q) What would you and Laiba say to girls who was thinking about giving rugby a go?

A) “Laiba would say “go for it, the more mistakes you make the better you get, and most importantly have fun”


Q) What are yours and Laiba’s thoughts on the work The Harlequins Foundation does?

A) “Laiba is so grateful for the work James and his team have put in by giving Laiba and other girls like her a platform to have the opportunity to get to know and play the wonderful sport. If it were not the endless support James and Harlequins has given Laiba, she would not have been in the position she is. Laiba has started from knowing almost nothing about rugby, playing in school to joining a club and making it to the county and hopefully England one day. Her words are if she can put in the hard work and do it so can you or anyone out there.”


James Collins-Clark, Foundation Development Officer for Hounslow says this:

“Laiba is someone who embraces things that she is passionate about and it is evident that she has fully embraced rugby.

“To successfully transition into a rugby club and be an integral part of her team is one thing but to be selected to represent her county is something else entirely in such a short period of time, 11 months in fact.

“I am incomplete awe of Laiba as she has fully embraced everything that I have said and now like her good friend Rebekah is a shining example of how good Project Rugby can be.”

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