THIRTY-SIX-YEAR old Chantel John is a competitive female rugby player, a former resident of Conway, now known as the Castries Waterfront; she currently resides in Entrepot, Castries and is a member of the Whiptail Warriors Rugby Team.
John is a former student of the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School (CCSS). She is a member of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force Police (RSLPF) and has been with that organization for 14 years, currently attached to the Marine Unit for the past five years.
Earlier this week, the VOICE spoke to Chantel about her illustrious sporting career and more.
This is what she had she say.
“I always wanted to be a police officer; I was enrolled in the Saint Lucia Cadet Corp from school and liked the military side of it, so from very early I knew what occupation I would choose”.
“My sporting career started from school; on the football front, I played for VSADC, then played for Marchand when the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc changed the women tournament to Inter Districts instead of Clubs”.
A combination of football and rugby: “It wasn’t a switch; I was playing both sporting disciplines at the same time. The reason for holding on to rugby was simply because there was more opportunity to play for the national team. Rugby is more like a family”.
Chantel started playing rugby from 2004 and have been representing Saint Lucia on a yearly basis in all tournaments up until now. She said her biggest support comes from her teammates.
Chantel’s success and achievements are epitomized by her commitment, dedication and discipline. She represented Saint Lucia as a player at the Rugby Americas North 2005, 2006 and 2011 in Barbados. At the Rugby Americas North 2009 tournament in Mexico St Lucia placed second. Chantel captained the Saint Lucia National Team in a 7s tournament in Martinique where Team Saint Lucia emerged as champions in January 2018; six months later, she was Vice-Captain of the Saint Lucia National team at a 7s Tournament in Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia again emerged champions.
As captain, Chantel marshalled the Whiptail Warriors Rugby Team in many local tournaments organized by the SLRFU; she also captained the Whiptail Warriors Rugby Team at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Rugby Tournament in 2018; likewise captained the Saint Lucia Elite team to victory at the 5th Annual Monique Ribeaut Rugby 7s in Guadeloupe in May 2019 and to round it off she captained the Saint Lucia female team in Martinique in July 2020 and like previous outings team Saint Lucia took home the championship trophy.
On the officiating side of things she was the Assistant Referee in the Barbados World Rugby 7s in 2017; Assistant Referee in a Ran 15s game in Saint Lucia 2017; Referee at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Rugby Tournament November 2018; Assistant Referee Rtek Rugby Americans North Championship September 2018; Assistant referee at the Barbados World Rugby sevens December 2018; Refereed at the Tropical Sevens in Orlando, Florida April 2019; Refereed at the Rugby America’s North Men’s under 19 and Women’s 10s July 2019 in Barbados; Assistant Referee at Rugby America North 15s game in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines October, 2019; Assistant Referee Barbados World Rugby 7s December 2019.
For two consecutive years 2018 – 2019 Chantel was the SLRFU Technical Official of the Year at the Saint Lucia National Sports Awards.
Off the pitch, in 2016 she captured the Most Outstanding Student (MOS) RSLPF Coxswain Course.
Coaching experience: she was the Assistant Coach for Saint Lucia Under 19 men’s team 2014; Level 1 World Rugby Coaching Certificate 2016; Assistant Coach Saint Lucia female team 2018 – 2019; Caribbean Coaching Course 2019; Certificate Sports Administration Course October/November 2020.
Officiating: Chantel said, “I started refereeing in 2014; my first International engagement was in the Cayman Islands where I officiated in the CONCACAF Under 15 girl’s tournament. I still continue officiating in all levels of football in Saint Lucia.
In terms of officiating a male football or rugby game and the respect from the players on the pitch she said, “Being a police officer, I am forceful, I stick to the rules/ laws of the game so I don’t have a problem officiating a male game, the players do respect me and I am very thankful for that.”
Like any other competitive athlete looking towards the future, the sky is the limit for Chantel as she highlighted her short term goals. “I would like to go to the Olympic Games to represent Saint Lucia as a player and as a referee. I would like to officiate at the HSBC Rugby World 7s series whenever the opportunity comes around.”
On the question of the COVID -19 pandemic and training, she said, “COVID has pushed me back in terms of preparation for refereeing and also playing. With my profession, I have less time to train because it takes a toll on me. At present there are no contact sports. Training as a team I feel more motivated and it also makes you want to train more.”
To young and aspiring female athletes considering playing rugby: “Coming to play rugby there is discipline and unity, you feel like you are in an extended family, it pushes you to do your best and aim high. It has good team spirit”.
The VOICE also caught up with the SLRFU Technical Director, Wayne Pantor who spoke highly of Chantel John’s sporting journey. This is what he had to say.
“Chantel is a senior/veteran player; she is one of the foundation members of the first Saint Lucia Female Rugby teams to participate regionally”.
“She has had a stella career, from player to international referee and now whilst still playing and refereeing found time during COVID -19 pandemic to also pursue her certification as Level 2 coaching and participated in the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc sports administration Workshop”.
“I see her taking up the role of senior coach for one of the national programmes as she is a positive role model and the players have great respect for her”.
“She has also been recommended to Rugby Americas North to attend the Rugby Educator Course in 2021 by the SLRFU, once completed successfully, she would be Saint Lucia’s 1st Local certified World Rugby Educator”.
“Who knows what the future may unfold for Chantel with the wealth of rugby under her belt she may also be a good candidate for a female president of the SLRFU”.