Cardiff Rugby’s GPS intern, Sophie Carlton-Greaves, is set for the trip of a lifetime when she travels to Uganda next month alongside her Scarlets and Ospreys counterparts.
The Loughborough University student has spent the past season as part of the backroom staff at the Arms Park, gaining valuable behind-the-scenes insight as a member of the Strength and Conditioning department.
Having spent the season monitoring the GPS data for the first team squad, it will be Sophie who racks up the miles next month as she heads to the town of Jinja, which sits on the shores of Lake Victoria.
She will be joined by house-mates and fellow interns - Scarlets’ Alice Beresford and Ben Dawson of Ospreys - as the trio get to work on transforming an empty field into an exciting new playground for local children and orphans. The challenge has required significant fund-raising efforts but will leave a legacy for children to learn, develop essential like skills and nurture their physical, psychological and social development through the language they know best - Play!
Looking ahead to the mammoth challenge, Sophie said: “It’s an opportunity which has come up through university, and we’ve decided take on this challenge together this year.
“This type of experience is something I’ve always wanted to do and I thought, whilst I’ve got a little bit of time, why not sign up alongside Alice and Ben.
“It’s going to be an excellent opportunity to learn about the culture in Uganda and see the challenges they face but to also make a positive impact in their community. Hopefully the work done over at Jinja will create memories of a lifetime for these children and put a smile on their faces. I can't wait to be a part of the team that makes this possible.
“I’ve been lucky to travel to pretty amazing parts of the world in recent years, but during that I’ve seen how lucky we are. We want to go there and make a difference in a community that’s less fortunate than ours.
“As a group we’ve become really good friends over the last year. It will be a new challenge for us over the two weeks but I hope we’ll take a lot from it. We're very grateful for all the support we've received so far, the donations have been invaluable for us.”
Click HERE to donate to Sophie's cause
Sophie will remain a member of Cardiff’s backroom team until the end of July, where she will return to Loughborough to complete her studies in sports and exercise science.
Reflecting on the past 12 months at the capital, which has taken Sophie to all Cardiff matches, she said: “I’ve loved every second of it, and I really don’t want it to finish. I’ve been lucky to have some amazing opportunities with the team during that time, including some travelling and being involved with the national team.
“I applied for the role at the start of the year and it’s been a great way of getting some experience under my belt and get my foot in the door.
“The S&C department, including Trystan Bevan, have been nothing but good with me and welcomed me into the club with open arms. But the same is true across the club - from players to staff they’ve all made an effort to get me to settle here.
“I’ve had a great insight into life behind the scenes at a rugby club. You get a real understanding of how things work in a squad environment day-to-day and how the different departments collaborate. I’ve learned so much and it will be hugely beneficial when I return to Loughborough to finish my degree.
“Whenever I’ve wanted to learn anything, whether that’s S&C, physiotherapy or analysis, people have been really happy to help.
“It’s a little device that the players will wear for all training sessions and matches. When they’re out there training or playing, I’ll be on my laptop continually coding the stats and feeding the data back to coaches live.
“You’re able to monitor speed, distance, acceleration, contacts, maximum velocity and that can be fed into players and coaches as the sessions go on before being compiled into a big report afterwards which is used by coaches and physios to monitor the working week.
“On a Monday you will have lower intensity training days before Tuesday and Thursday where big training loads are expected. Friday will be low intensity once again for the run-throughs before looking at game day.”