Khan encourages kids

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

The wind was howling, and the temperature was downright frigid.

Yet there was Obby Khan with a huge smile on his face, laughing and joking with a few hundred middle school students at Maple Grove Rugby Park.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman is Rugby Manitoba's new youth ambassador, and he was having a blast in his new role yesterday at the inaugural Obby's Youth Flag Jamboree.

"I see a lot of talented kids," Khan said during a lunch break. "I see more talented girls. The girls in flag rugby do phenomenal. Rugby guys want to run into one another. Girls want to avoid contact, and that's the whole point of rugby.

"It's fun. There's over 250 kids in freezing cold weather, and they're having fun for the most part. It's going really good."

Khan started playing rugby in his hometown of Ottawa because he was cut twice from his high school football team. He finally made that football team and ended up getting a scholarship in that sport from B.C.'s Simon Fraser University, but he continued playing rugby at the club level while at SFU.

"I just love rugby, because I think rugby is more of an inclusive sport than football," Khan said. "Everyone gets to touch the ball. In football, everyone's role is just as vital, but you don't really feel it as much. Especially on the offensive line, right? We block all game and no one even notices us.

"I was a great eight man in second row. I loved it, and I say if they would pay me the same money to play rugby, I'd probably switch over to rugby."

Rugby Manitoba president Christian Taylor said Khan's presence will only help the sport in Manitoba, which they're trying to build significantly at the grassroots level.

"To be able to expose the middle school kids, the Grade 7s and 8s and even some 5s and 6s to rugby, is huge for us," Taylor said. "We're really excited about, and the kids seem to be having a really great time.

"It's pretty exciting. Obby and our staff have done a great job with getting this going."


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