BC Grassroots Rugby Fund

The BC Grassroots Rugby Fund was established in 2020.

Who We Are:

The British Columbia Grassroots Rugby Foundation (BC GRF) is a rugby-centered community development non-profit organization that uses rugby as a tool for social good. The community rugby program relies on strong relationships with local rugby clubs, community groups, schools, and municipalities, to ensure that youth in priority neighbourhoods have opportunities to participate in safe touch rugby over the spring and summer months. BC GRF works to provide opportunities for youth & children from all ethnic backgrounds, low-income families, indigenous communities, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and vulnerable youth to participate in pro-social development through organized sport.

2021, our second, was a breakthrough year for the BC Grassroots Rugby Foundation. In 2020 we hired 12 summer coaches, acquired 112,000 in CSJ funding and operated in Nanaimo, Cowichan, Victoria and Sooke. In 2021 we hired 43 summer coaches, acquired $224,000 in CSJ funding and expanded our funded geographical reach to Port Alberni, Courtney/Comox and Kelowna. In addition to these locations, we conducted programs in Vancouver, Pender Island, Denman Island, Gabriola Island, Hornby Island. This summer we had 3200 children come through our program. Our goal was 5000 participants, despite not reaching our goal, Grassroots had a great summer and has made a significant impact on the rugby community:

  • 46 Employees
  • Two UVIC CO-OP Students
  • $224,000 CSJ Funding
  • 6 Constituencies; Port Alberni, Kelowna, Victoria, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Sooke/Esquimalt
  • 40 Coaches World Rugby Level 1 qualified injected into the system
  • 14 Coaches are visible minorities
  • 5 Coaches are of Indigenous descent
  • 1 Coach is mixed abilities
  • 2 Coaches are currently representing Canada on the international stage
  • 3200 Youth participants

Training, Professional & Personal Growth

We were able to deliver three days of orientation for all of our coaches, which included the World Rugby Level 1 course in partnership with BCRU. Our staff engaged in weekly professional and personal development sessions via Zoom. Our development sessions focused on; Mental health and the tools needed to perform in your daily environment Coaching and methods to improve our skills as coaches BIPOC education Learning seminars from former and current International coaches and players:

  • English Head Coach – Eddie Jones
  • Canadian Internationals – Ray Barkwill, DTH Van De Merve, Jake Thiel, Pamphinette Buisa
  • NFL Player – Luke Wilson
  • YouTube sensation – Georgia Paige
  • Indigenous culture and land acknowledgement training from John Lyall and Brother John

Our Leadership & Boots on the Ground

We were fortunate to have great leadership in each of our constituencies Gavin Purewal from Port Alberni was outstanding, Brock Staller led the Nanaimo team with great organization and perseverance, Sion Griffiths & George Barton jointly took on the role of Cowichan and added to its legacy as of our highest producing area, Chanelle Edwards-Challenger returned for the second year of employment and enthusiastically managed our largest team in Victoria and finally, Christian Hill did an excellent job navigating new territory in Kelowna. The addition of UVic Co-Op students Linnea Dalvi and Gabriel Casey lightened the load for the spine of the team Aaron, Randall and myself. With an amazing team of 43 employees, we decided to use a program called Sling. This made communication and operations easier and more efficient.


It was challenging. At times we struggled, failed/learnt but strived to execute this game-changing initiative. There are many highlights as I reflect on the year but the ones that standouts for me are the relationships we have built and the people we have encountered. Our employees are all young people who will carry the torch for this sport in their communities. I believe that through employment we offer a chance, a shot, for aspiring coaches and players to achieve their dreams. Grassroots like most great things in life, was an idea, through purposeful action, perseverance and goodwill it has become the largest participation-based rugby program in Western Canada. This organization has extreme potential to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young people in our Country. As always, I must thank our funding agents, donors, sponsors and Directors for their contributions made; without them The Grassroots Rugby Foundation does not happen.

2021 Annual Report