Cheryl Soon will forever be associated with Rugby Sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic Games, having been part of the International Rugby Board’s bid team presenting in Copenhagen on 9 October 2009, the day the International Olympic Committee Session voted to add the sport to the 2016 and 2020 Games.
The Australian, who only seven months earlier had led her country to the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens title in Dubai, has already seen the benefits that Olympic inclusion has brought to Sevens, both at home and around the world.
“With Sevens inclusion in the 2016 Olympics it has lifted the profile of Women’s Rugby and of Sevens for both females and males,” admitted Soon, who is hoping to make Australia’s team for RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow after a year out having a baby.
“Everybody now wants to be an Olympian and you can be. That dream can be a reality now if they just participate and if they just get interested, get a ball in their hand.
“Anyone can do it whether you’re a swimmer, whether you’re a rower, whether you play netball – it doesn’t matter what sport you play if you have got the skill, the passion, the desire and the commitment you can definitely be there, be an Olympian and represent your country playing Rugby Sevens.”
That interest from other sportsmen and women has come as no surprise to Soon.
“At first I knew this was going to happen, you just want to put your best team forward and it doesn’t matter what sport they come from, we welcome all athletes to play Sevens because let’s face it, we want to win a gold medal.
“You want your best athletes there regardless of what sport they play, if they want to get involved (in Sevens) that is a great thing.”
Soon is hugely passionate about the sport that has taken her all over the world and seen her captain Australia in both Sevens and Fifteens, and certainly wouldn’t hesitate in pointing sports stars or young girls to the sport of Sevens.
“Rugby Sevens is definitely a fun, fun sport. I would definitely be steering them in that direction. If you have got the commitment, and you obviously have if you are playing other sports, you know what it takes.
Go for gold
“If you want to get involved, get involved because it is such a great sport. You get to travel the world, you meet lifelong friends through this game. It is just so much fun on and off the field and it is such a great sport to learn.
“I think it is very easy to learn the skills, you just have to fast track with the rules and things like that and the physical side of it, but at the end of the day it is such a great game to play and I highly recommend getting involved.
“You don’t know until you give it a go. You have just got to think, ‘do you want to be playing in the Olympics?’ Well then this is for you, this is definitely an opportunity for kids, males and females, to get involved and maybe bring home a medal.”
Age is not on Soon’s side to play in the Olympics, but the scrum half hasn’t ruled it out. For now, though, her focus is on returning to the Australian jersey for the chance to experience more success on the RWC Sevens stage.
“I am focusing on the World Cup, just baby steps at the moment even though that is a big step for me. I’m just focusing on that and will see how I go. I am definitely committed and dedicated and I feel if you can give birth and go through all of that you can do anything!”