Apart from Family, Nelly Finds Community Through Rugby

After moving away from her family, playing on an all-girl's rugby team has given Nelly a sense of belonging.

Nelly’s parents, born in Fiji, are officers in the Salvation Army. With their jobs, they had to leave a lot of family and cultural traditions back in California where Nelly and her siblings grew up. After facing challenges of discrimination and doubt, rugby helped her rekindle a sense of community and joy.

Being told she was too scrawny to compete in sports only fueled Nelly’s fire. “It just made me want to pursue a sport even more and work hard and train,” she said. “That whole mindset has just kept me going.”

Nelly's sports board

As an UPSWING Experience Scholarship recipient, Nelly is training hard and improving her skills in the hopes of following in her Aunt’s footsteps as a professional rugby player.

Hear more about their story from Nelly’s sister, Arieta, who plays on the same rugby team:

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