SPECIAL DELIVERY: Memphis sixth-grader selected to deliver official Match Ball at the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan

Jamiyah Brown, age 11, won the #DHLGoForward contest and was awarded the opportunity to deliver an official Match Ball during the USA v France match on Oct 2, 2019.

Last Friday, a Memphis Inner City Rugby field day was interrupted when a DHL Express truck drove onto the pitch to deliver a special package to a deserving sixth grader. Jamiyah Brown (age 11), opened her surprise package only to find a once in a lifetime opportunity – the opportunity to deliver an official Match Ball at the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

"When I saw the contest posted on social media, I thought of Jamiyah right away," said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Memphis Inner City Rugby, Shane Young. "I spoke with her coach, Allison Hitchcock, who helped submit a good application that highlighted Jamiyah's personality and ability as an athlete."

DHL Express, an Official Logistics Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019, hosted the #DHLGoForward contest to award one player (age 8-15) who best exemplifies the values of rugby, with the opportunity to deliver an official Match Ball during the USA v France match on Oct 2, 2019.

DHL worked alongside Play Rugby USA to find the individual who embodies the rugby values on and off the pitch. Young highlighted Brown's extraordinarily spirit, perseverance, and overall passion for the game. He believed her to be the ideal candidate.

Young also noted how quickly Brown picked up the game.

"Many of our girls - who actually become good players - often start very timid. They take a while to get their feet under them in the game of rugby. But, Jamiyah never had that. She was very quick in her learning and literally quick," he added.

Beyond this, Young credits Brown for her ability to inspire the rest of the team.

"Our high school girls watch her play and rally around her to cheer her on. They draw inspiration from her because they see her pioneer the sport in a different corner of Memphis with a younger age group," Young said.

When Young and the rest of the leadership team learned that Brown was selected as the #DHLGoForward contest winner, their reaction was as expected.

"We were Emotional. Awestruck. We never thought any of our kids would go to the World Cup or even abroad. We do not have a lot of resources in our organization. The cost alone and knowing that the opportunity is so rare, it 'didn't appear likely. So to have a student-athlete get this opportunity – we were just emotional."

"It shows that anything is possible. Our kids have had to overcome extreme obstacles to create the rugby community in Memphis. They haven't been handed anything. We are so proud of them for pushing through these obstacles and achieving great things."

"This is just the beginning for our club." Young added, "We know how much work there is left to do and how many more milestones and achievements, like Jamiyah's, we have yet to accomplish. We hope these moments will help be the catalyst to increase the impact on our student's lives."

"The sport is a perfect vessel for impact. However, it is merely a vessel that requires an outstanding design, high-level talent, good leadership, and love. When those things come together, you have a really special opportunity."

"As Jamiyah goes to represent us globally, we hope that it is not only an amazing experience for her but also draws attention to what we think is the most important thing in American rugby; which is to bring the sport to urban, educational landscapes and give kids access to the game who might otherwise not have the opportunity."

This is what Memphis Inner City Rugby is all about. The club’s mission is to expand athletic and academic opportunity in low-income neighborhoods across Memphis. To provide each student with the opportunity to play.

"We think there is nothing more important in American rugby than to direct our resources into sharing the game with kids - no matter their zip codes and income level," he concluded.

Learn more about Memphis Inner City Rugby HERE