Sushantika S writes about her four-year journey with rugby at Societe Generale and how the sport continuously leads to great lessons and memories.
The more you love something, the further you take it. I believe the converse is also true – the more you love something, the further it takes you!
Four years ago as I walked into the office after my onboarding session, I was greeted by a couple of friendly faces at Societe Generale Bangalore. One of them from the recruitment team, instantly recognised me from the rugby club I used to be a part of in engineering college (2009-2011). Fast forward to a few weeks later, I discovered that there were regional rugby matches being organised. I was told to play and it was welcomed by my colleagues.
On match day, it was the first time I met my fellow team mates. A full day, multiple packets of glucose and an empty stomach later, the winners were announced. We won the matches! The ‘Star of the Tournament’ award was announced and I had won it, to my surprise!
My kind team took me out to lunch at 5 pm and celebrated along with me. I was also encouraged to start a rugby club for women at work. The idea seemed crazy at first but a few months later it worked with the support of the management at Societe Generale.
Together with a colleague, I ran a rugby club of 30 women at work. With weekly practice sessions, we had several men yearning to be a part of the club. The friendly matches organised with our NGO partner beneficiaries made it all the more special.
Fast forward to 2019 and rugby world cup season. I was ecstatic to note that we’re again hosting matches at work. After putting together a team that hadn’t played rugby before or even met each other, we had an interesting challenge ahead of us. As I was thinking of a name to call ourselves while I hurriedly registered online, I was thinking how great it would be if we won again – it would feel like deja vu.
The week leading up to the regional matches, we decided to practice at Lionel’s home. Keshava, Jatinder, Manohar, Heena, Remy & Sneha were now a part of Deja Vu. After a quick round of introductions, we got on to practicing. We even practiced in the rain, despite some of us having fevers. I guess rugby and a wonderful team does that to you – you feel better along the way!
Match day was competitive with several teams participating. Over 15 teams across Bangalore and Chennai took part with the hope of winning the title and also a chance to participate in the Societe Generale APAC Touch Rugby Charity Tournament in Hong Kong.
After a tough day on the field and nearly all of us giving into our injuries, team Deja Vu managed to win in Bangalore and with it qualified for the matches scheduled for Hong Kong!
We raised funds that would go towards the greater goal of positively impacting the lives of children who are a part of our NGO partners’ association. After successful ‘campaigning’ which included regular floor walks, connects and reaching out to friends on social media, we gathered the support and good wishes of our many peers who helped us raise the funds needed to participate and also learnt about rugby, and Societe Generale’s support for our NGO partner. All this happened in a span of one month!
We got ready to pack our bags and hoped for the best. We knew that our experience in rugby wasn’t much but we would give it our best shot.
Once we arrived in Hong Kong the hosting team greeted us with a warm welcome to the matches that took place over the weekend of 23-25 August, 2019 – a date range which is now permanently imprinted in my mind! We got to interact with the rest of the 25 registered teams from 8 regions. My heart was bursting with joy as it was already an amazing weekend dedicated to rugby, a sport I hold close to my heart.
Not only this, but also we learnt that we would receive the support of rugby legends Matt Giteau, Thomas Castaignède and Nick Hewson and coaching from members of the HK Valley Rugby Club during the course of our matches. At a dinner over the weekend of matches, team Deja vu received a special mention for our rugby games by Nick Hewson – we couldn’t believe ourselves! I know my jaw had dropped for a few seconds at least, this truly felt like an achievement, especially as a captain to my lovely team!
What makes the journey of rugby truly amazing? It brings people together with nothing in common – we may have been from different cultures, speaking different languages and having been born in different eras but rugby was the single factor that made this a truly incredible journey. It not only supports values that are important to have and keep, but it also brings positive impact. The sport is helping thousands of children gain access to a more fulfilling life through Societe Generale.
This weekend of rugby brought diverse teams from 8 regions over a common goal of promoting positive impact. Trophies and titles didn’t matter, it was the spirit of rugby which did, to each of the over 200 employees of Societe Generale who came together during this charity event.
And that’s why I believe that the lovely poster by Societe Generale hung up at the venue which read “The more you love something the further you take it” rings true. But also, my love for rugby has given me so much, and that is why the spirit of rugby also gives back what you put in.
This was a life-changing experience for me especially first time captaining my team and coaching them. They are the best team a girl can have! 😉
I’m also truly grateful to my home club the Bangalore Rugby Football Club which has given me some of the best experiences, lessons and people in my life.
Last but not the least, the serendipity of being an employee of Societe Generale which sponsors my favorite sport – the values of which live amidst its employees – my bosses and team mates who encouraged me and my team along our journey of rugby. ‘Thank you’ to everyone who made this surreal experience possible!
Originally posted at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/more-you-love-something-further-take-sushantika-s/