2023 URC Leadership Academy MVP Graduate Tateana Myburgh Reflects

The United Rugby Championship Women’s Leadership Academy focusses on growing diversity and inclusion in sport to create a more unified next generation, and 2023 URC Leadership Academy MVP graduate Tateana Myburgh explains what’s involved. All Photos: Supplied

The United Rugby Championship has launched their second Women’s Leadership Academy programme for the 2023/24 season, and South Africa’s Tateana Myburgh was the top “MVP” (Most Valuable Player) to graduate. 

The URC’s WLA is a powerful drive to encourage greater female representation in the sports workplace, which gives women around the world an opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the best in sport and tap into a global network of women in the business of sport.

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The URC Women’s Leadership Academy is part of the  United Rugby Championship’s focus on growing diversity and inclusion in sport under the competition’s “Take on Tomorrow” programme, which sees the URC using their platforms and influence to create a healthier, stronger, more unified next generation who can take on tomorrow.

This has been echoed by the WLA alumni Myburgh: “Overall, programs like the URC Women’s Leadership Academy play a pivotal role in addressing gender disparities in sports leadership. By equipping women with the necessary skills, knowledge, and opportunities, these programs empower them to break barriers and thrive in traditionally male- dominated fields.”

In a time where mentors are hard to come by, but the need for them is just as important as it was in the past, if not significantly more. This programme provides a panel of mentors leaving the candidates with plenty of knowledge to gain from a variety of industry leaders. 

“The academy serves as a platform for expanding professional networks, facilitating meaningful connections with fellow participants, esteemed mentors, and industry leaders. Additionally, I have learned to leverage my strengths, overcome obstacles, and embrace my unique leadership style with authenticity and poise,” said Myburgh.

“The academy offered exposure to diverse perspectives and role models, fostering a more inclusive and equitable approach to leadership. I gained valuable insights into different leadership styles, cultural nuances, and emerging trends, broadening my worldview and enriching my leadership toolkit.”

2023 URC Leadership Academy MVP Graduate Tateana Myburgh

Women around the world between the ages of 18-26 can now apply for entrance to the academy. A final selection process will identify 50 successful candidates who will undergo a series CV-boosting workshops with leaders in the fields of Broadcasting, Commercial, Marketing, Digital Content and other sectors within the sports industry.

If what you’ve read so far has sparked some interest and you are contemplating applying, Tateana gives a first-hand experience of the application process.

“The application process for the leadership academy was notably distinct, requiring the submission of a personalised application video. This method, though admittedly more challenging, provided a comprehensive platform to showcase various facets of my personality, including aspects I grapple with daily such as confidence, self- esteem, and shyness. The video adhered to specific guidelines, favouring authenticity over extreme professionalism, addressing topics such as personal background, motivations for applying, reasons for selection, admiration for a female sports leader, hobbies, and favourite sports.

All participants can graduate and the top “MVP” (Most Valuable Player) graduate will earn work experience at the URC Grand Final on 22 June 2024 and an internship programme to further her career within the sports industry.

The Pretoria-based Myburgh has now concluded the internship opportunity and is ready to use the knowledge and skills acquired while also growing in her endeavours. “While the internship may have officially concluded it has ignited promising avenues for my future, notably including a potential position with one of South Africa’s renowned rugby teams.

“After careful consideration, I have chosen to pursue a bachelor’s degree in arts with a focus on Media Studies at Eduvos University. This comprehensive course covers all aspects of the media industry, aligning perfectly with my interests and aspirations.”

Myburgh got to the programme and she not only represented herself well but she also became an exceptional ambassador for South Africa earning the top spot at the end of the programme: 

“Earning the title of MVP not only brings honour but also unlocks a range of valuable opportunities for networking, mentorship, and heightened visibility within the sports leadership community. Following my recognition, I was privileged to participate in the grand final held in Cape Town that year, offering me a hands-on, immersive experience that significantly enriched my understanding of the sports industry.

“I gained invaluable work experience with esteemed rugby teams such as the Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls. Immersing myself in these environments was not only immensely enjoyable but also allowed me to cultivate a successful track record, particularly within the Lions family, where I made significant contributions and built strong relationships.”

This year a formidable line-up of female leaders and role models will be sharing their experiences and career journey through the WLA programme, including South Africa’s renowned broadcaster Motshidisi Mohono:

  • Ann Austin, WTA Vice President Philanthropy & Community Development
  • Elma Smit, Sports Presenter and content producer
  • Emma Dodds, Sports Broadcaster
  • Madelein Meppelink, former Olympic beach volleyball player
  • Michaella Snoeck, Head of Media Rights Formula 1
  • Motshidisi Mohono, Sports Anchor/Presenter
  • Samantha Feyzeny, Head of Marketing and Communications, NSW Office of Sport
  • Tiffany Jones, Social Media Manager at Six Nations Rugby
  • Vania King, Former professional tennis player and Consultant for the WTA

“The business of sport is evolving at such a rapid pace globally. Within the URC we have a growing base of incredible women who are transforming the industry through their amazing work. These women are powerful role models who are already inspiring the next generation, and the URC Women’s Leadership Academy is the perfect vehicle to accelerate this change and give women the opportunities they deserve,” said URC CEO Martin Anayi.

Myburgh says programmes like the URC WLA promote equality by providing opportunities for women to participate and excel in sports. “By closing the gender gap, they contribute to a more inclusive sporting community. Such initiatives empower women by providing them with the necessary skills, resources, and support to pursue their goals. Access to training and development programs can lead to professional opportunities for women in the sports industry, including coaching, administration, media, and beyond.

Now the world must get ready to witness the rise of another extraordinary woman in sport courtesy of the URC WLA and we are excited because she is a “home-girl” – from Pretoria to the world!

“In five years, I see myself donning a graduation cap, proudly holding my desired degree. As I toss that cap in the air, I’ll be envisioning myself at Ellis Park Stadium, not just cheering for my beloved Lions but being an integral part of their media family. 

“Picture this: me, running up and down the stadium, tackling tasks left and right with a grin that could outshine even the brightest stadium lights.  But it doesn’t stop there. I’ll also be donning my mentor hat, guiding young women through the challenges I once faced, all while keeping my camera close by to capture every victorious moment. And who knows, maybe I’ll even be dabbling in presenting and content creation, adding a sprinkle of my own unique flair to the mix.”

Photo Caption: The United Rugby Championship Women’s Leadership Academy focusses on growing diversity and inclusion in sport to create a more unified next generation, and 2023 URC Leadership Academy MVP graduate Tateana Myburgh explains what’s involved. All Photos: Supplied 

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