News / London

To Uganda with love: London rugby player helping out in ‘post-conflict’ country

Combine some homemade scarves, the sport of rugby, a trip to Uganda and you have the life of Kellie Renwick in the foreseeable future.

Renwick, 23, of London, is part of the Gainline Africa team heading to Uganda on June 5. She will be there for 2 ½ weeks, and it will be her second trip there in three years.

Gainline Africa is a Canadian sports-for-development organization that uses rugby as a “tool for development” in Africa’s post-conflict communities.

The infinity scarves come into play as she will be sewing 35 to 40 and selling them as part of the fundraising component of the trip. She must raise $1,500.

A graduate of Catholic Central and Western, she did not play rugby until university where she played for Natascha Wesch for three years.

“She was a kick in my ass,” Renwick said, adding that's something all rugby players need to support each other.

Renwick said she will be going to Gulu, in northern Uganda, working with the Gulu Elephants rugby team and one of the seven high schools in the community.

“You could be dealing with players (at the high schools) who have no idea what the hell rugby is,” Renwick said.  “They’re throwing it like a football. They’re freaking out when they catch it or some people are into it right away.”

While there, she will also be involved with a Rugby for Change program where she’ll go to a Ugandan prison and teach inmates rugby.

“A lot of people have argued ‘Oh rugby, it’s such a rough, terrible sport in such a post-conflict country, why would play such a violent sport.’ You make it as violent as you want it to be. It’s not about punching people in the face or cleating them,” she said.

When the program is complete, Renwick plans to stay in Africa and travel with her boyfriend.

Her scarves are Smooth Wax Bar (620 Richmond St.) or you can contact Renwick directly at enwic@uwo.ca.

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