Samir Tavares offered rugby scholarship after impressive sevens stint
Bermuda International Rugby 7s Tournament provides opportunity to further one’s lot in life and for one local, Samir Tavares, it came knocking with a tentative scholarship offer from Kutztown University.
Tavares now stands in line to follow in the footsteps of Alex Doyling, a graduate student at the Pennsylvania institution after being spotted at the last tournament held here in 2019.
Measuring more than six-feet in height, Tavares is a multi-sport athlete who came up through the Southampton Rangers youth cricket programme before migrating to Somerset Bridge, where he featured regularly in the senior team as a change bowler and lower-order batsman.
Recruited to play rugby while attending middle school, he has fostered an additional love affair with a game far more beastly than the ‘gentleman’s game’.
For Tavares the offer of a free ride through college, with the chance to earn a degree at the same time, came as a welcome benefit to his participation in a tournament stocked with college teams.
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“I’m very excited to get that offer and really surprised,” said Tavares, a prop with Bermuda Stars. “I’m a young cricketer, as well as a rugby player, so my choices have been opened up a lot now.
“I feel like I can accomplish a lot if I were to go to Kutztown as a rugby player and really be able to set myself up for the future.
“In middle school, I was encouraged to come out and play rugby based on me being a big guys and, in playing, I developed a love for the game and have kept playing ever since.
“I never really thought much about a rugby scholarship, but this shows that aside from this being a really fun tournament, it brings a lot of opportunities as well.
“It’s truly eye-opening and brings a lot of players from all over the world.”
Tavares would need go no further to find out about the student/athlete experience at Kutztown than to venture along the sidelines to fellow Bermudian Alex Doyling, who received a similar offer during a past edition of the event and this year returned as a member of the all-conquering Golden Bears.
A graduate student, who is currently interning within the reinsurance sector, Doyling told how rugby, while not popular among the lesser-privileged Bermudian youth, provides yet another avenue for upward mobility.
“It’s can be a valuable outlet for the lesser privileged and one that we need to keep pushing,” said Doyling. “Keep bringing in influential rugby players, big-name players like we have in football and cricket and show them the potential of rugby.
“Even the national team went to Barbados last year and won third place, so we’re placing higher than a lot of teams out there and Bermuda can make a a better effort in pushing rugby as a possible means to an end for our youth.”
Organiser and Bermuda national team player Tom Healy, while emphasising the formal scholarship procees was still to be completed, noted such opportunities are a key element of the event.
“All going well I believe it will be completed, but what I can say is that when we market this tournament to sponsors, one of the main things we say is that we have a track record of securing scholarships.
“We’ve secured two scholarships out of four events and if all goes well with Samir that will be three scholarships out of five events.
“This is exactly what we promise to deliver when we market these events to potential sponsors and unfortunately we haven’t had the success with the sponsorship this year, but I would like to think, going forward, it’s an opportunistic endeavour for corporates to get involved in community give-back.
“This is one avenue for doing that, there are others, but we have a track record of producing outcomes.
“For the tournament and for Samir, himself, this is a huge success and we are so proud of it and so proud of him and what he’s delivered.
“But it’s there for every Bermudian that’s fit to come out. We provide the vehicle to give the exposure. It’s up to the Bermudian youth to take this opportunity, to come out and play rugby and get the exposure with the American colleges. We saw Samir do that today.”
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