Memphis Inner City Rugby looks to expand program, requests $1.1M in funding

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 5:44 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Inner City Rugby is seeking $1.1 million from Shelby County Government to expand its program.

The team currently plays at the vacant Vance Middle School lot, owned and operated by Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS). MICR leaders are looking to enhance the lot by adding more rugby playing field features, a plumbing system, and more.

“We have a Porta-Potty that’s here for a month, because before, we would be driving kids to McDonald’s anytime someone had to go to the bathroom, running water here,” explained co-founder Shane Young. “Our coaches are lugging Gatorade jugs and replacing them.”

Approval for the funding was voted on Wednesday, surviving the first round of voting, though, some Shelby County Commissioners had concerns about allocating that amount of money to one Memphis-area organization.

“I’m not saying that what you’re doing is not honorable, that it’s not impactful,” explained Commissioner Britney Thornton. “But I’m saying that there are additional consequences with just getting your $1.1 million without thinking about other Black and brown children across Shelby County, who are not going to be able to have a white, male figurehead sit up here and to be able to broker a deal on their behalf.”

MICR leaders said they currently have no plans to acquire the historic Vance Middle School lot with this funding. Commissioners asked to hear from an MSCS representative at the next meeting on November 13 ahead of the next vote.

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