FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Grade 11 student, Hailey Dutchak, is organizing a local event focused on introducing young females to the sport of rugby.

B.C. Rugby announced its Girls Can Rugby Day initiative on February 14th, with 19 Rugby Clubs throughout the province participating and hosting local events hoping that girls under 14 will catch the rugby bug.

“This age range is traditionally dominated by male players and we aim to readdress this balance and encourage more girls-only programming offered by Clubs going forward,” said the organization in a release.

The event is taking place across the province on March 6th, two days before International Women’s Day on March 8th and leading up to this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup.

The Peace Rugby Club received $750 from the provincial government to host the event that Dutchak is organizing for her school capstone project.

Dutchak is no stranger to the sport after being around it most of her life because of her parents, who met through rugby. However, she only started playing a couple of years ago after stumbling across the sport locally.

Her mom, Crystal, says they were leaving a basketball tournament when they noticed girls playing and decided to approach the coaches who asked her to join. The sport has now become a big part of the 17-year-old’s life.

Dutchak is looking to get to the next level in the sport by trying out to play for Team BC at the Canada Summer Games.

“Her life has kind of opened up from rugby. She’s definitely found her niche, her people, a sense of belonging,” said Crystal.

She says the club is also looking to convert some athletes into rugby players as they find it hard to draw in recruits, and usually have to combine with other neighbouring clubs in Alberta and BC.

The Girls Can Rugby Day is happening on March 6th at the field house in Fort St. john from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.