Unstoppable Madam President: New Philippine Rugby Chief Ada Milby Prioritises ‘Safe Return to Play’ - Asia Rugby
This article was first published on Asia Rugby
The first woman to be appointed to the World Rugby Council, in 2017, serving on the Regions Committee and Rugby Committee; member of the Asia Rugby EXCO since 2016, heading the Women Advisory Committee and serving on the Admin and Finance Committee; member of the Philippine Rugby Football Union Board since 2013, now the Union’s President: the unstoppable rugby powerhouse that is Ada Milby talks to Asia Rugby.
Whilst by no means underestimating the difficulties, restrictions and challenges facing the rugby world overall and her Union particularly as a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic, Milby is crystal clear on her priorities, remains determined and focused, and has immediately put into place a plan of action “to work with government agencies to ensure a safe return to play for all athletes and support role personnel based in country.”
She also remains positive about the opportunities and potential advantages the current period offers: “We are also using this time to review our governance structures and how to adjust our targets as we’re halfway through our current strategic plan.
This allows us to consider new threats and opportunities for the union in how we grow and develop the game.”
Cognizant that a hard reset must take place and that under the circumstances status quo will no longer do, she asserts: “we are prioritising engagement in non-conventional ways aimed at retaining our current stakeholders since rugby is about more than sport: it’s about community.”
Returning to play, the most critical consideration, for Ada Milby, continues to be players’ welfare. As part of Asia Rugby and World Rugby governing bodies, she has remained at the forefront of rugby’s mini-revolution where it comes to players’ safety. “I’m proud to be part of seeing the changes on the player welfare front, updating the high tackle framework to better educate coaches and players on ways to reduce the risk for concussion.”
Leading from the front always, Milby has been nothing less than a trailblazer as far as advocating women’s participation in rugby “from the grassroots to the boardrooms” is concerned.
“It has been exciting and rewarding,” she says, “seeing girl’s participation numbers on the fields in Asia and across the world rising, and then also the overwhelming support from the membership to move the needle on achieving a more balanced board by electing two women on Asia Rugby’s Executive Committee.”
She insists on downplaying her own contribution, however, crediting teamwork instead: “I wouldn’t claim any achievement as solely my own because all achievements on any council or committee are a result of the collective effort of the members that sit on them.
Moreover, she adds, “one challenge I face is the perception that since I’m a woman, I only care about women’s rugby. Of course, women’s rugby is a focus area for me, but not necessarily because I’m a woman. Globally, women’s sport is a growing category and World Rugby and Asia Rugby are promoting the development of women in Rugby, recognising this is an opportunity for growing the game. “
“Fortunately,” she adds, “I’m now engaging in spaces where the focus is on other aspects of the game demonstrating my interest in developing the Game with a holistic view.”
More focused than ever on “overcoming challenges and inspiring new leaders,” Ada Milby, our Madam President, shares two key tips for young people who wish to become leaders:
“Start with leadership of self. The more you know about yourself, the way you see the world and how others see you, the better you are able to engage, interact and lead a group towards a common goal.
“Recognise that you are likely a leader already. Leadership isn’t a destination – it’s a journey. My leadership style now is very different to the leadership style of my youth.”
The lessons and learnings from successes and failures along the way continue to shape my perceptions and decision-making style. So keep practicing the art of leadership, keep reaching for uncomfortable goals. Whether you succeed or fail at something, there’s always something on offer to help you develop towards achieving the roles in leadership to which you aspire. “
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