The Arturo Bravo Anton Foundation came to life in 2017, when Philadelphia Women’s head coach R2 Bravo Nuevo looked to memorialize the influence of a late family member. Today, the foundation is looking to build upon the two successful exchanges that have already occurred and gain some traction with Americans looking for overseas experiences.
“Last year my father passed away. He introduced me to rugby, so in his honor, I started a rugby non-profit to promote the exchange of female rugby players between Spain and the U.S.,” explained R2, who grew up in Spain and is now a U.S. citizen. “The aim of the foundation is to promote not just an exchange of rugby players, but also of each country’s culture.”
In fall 2017, the foundation chose Beatriz Massot for a three-month stay with Philadelphia. She was responsible for the plane ticket, but accommodation, food, CIPP fees and club dues were covered by the foundation.
“She loved it. She is from a small village and had never left Spain,” R2 said. “Her rugby skill was good, but maybe not top, so she learned a lot while she was here. She progressed a lot and ended up taking a flanker spot.
Massot (l) with R2 and Kate Hallinan
“She really bonded with the players,” R2 touched on the culture aspect. “She made strong friendships and they stay in touch. Those involved with the foundation then become managers of the Facebook page. They also interview candidates for future exchanges.”
Thus, Massot was involved with the selection of the second exchange student.
“This time we were looking for a high-level player, someone who could play for the first side and not get frustrated with playing time or the B side,” the coach said. “There was a lot of interest, and in addition to interviewing the players, we talked to their coaches about their skill and also their personalities. What do they need to improve and what can they bring to the team?”
The foundation hit the jackpot in Laura “Bimba” Delgado, “a legend of Spanish rugby,” R2 said. The prop is a capped international, featured in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, and played the USA during the teams’ pool play game. The 28-year-old remains an active, vital player in Las Leonas player pool, and before she returns to Spain for the November test window, she’ll have spent three months on the east coast.
Delgado took the pitch last weekend against Penn State in a pre-season friendly (muddy photo below). The regular season begins this weekend, as Philadelphia will kick off the new Division I East competition against Albany. The new league combines the North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and South into one split-season league.
“I think they’re excited,” R2 said of Delgado’s Philly teammates. “Bimba is very friendly and outgoing. She always has a big smile on her face, and that always helps.”
Delgado has also been eager to share her expertise, running scrum skill sessions and helping out at training.
“She told us, ‘I want the team to get as much from as I’m going to get from them,’” the coach added.
And that’s precisely what R2 was looking for when he created the foundation in his father’s honor, but there is one piece of the exchange missing: The Americans heading to Spain.
“So far we’ve only had Spanish players interested in the U.S., but we’re looking for Americans to go Spain,” R2 said. “I am hoping that eventually other teams in the U.S. and Spain will host players from both countries.”
To learn more about the foundation, Massot’s or Delagdo’s experience, or opportunities for Americans in Spain, click here.