The GSMP is an initiative created in 2012 by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with espnW and the University of Tennessee.
Wolfgramm, who played for the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens, is one of 16 participants from around the World, who have been chosen because they demonstrate exemplary leadership skills and experience in the sports sector. It’s a one-month professional development and educational program which focuses on empowering participants.
The mother-of-two is incredibly proud of her Samoan heritage and she wants to make a difference to the lives of Pacific Island and Māori girls. She said it’s an honor to have the opportunity to represent her culture, her family, and particularly her parents.
“I want to go over there and learn all I possibly can, so that I can come back and share my knowledge and learnings with my community, she said.
“I want Pacific Island and Māori girls in sport to be proud of where they have come from and to break down any barriers that they may have.”
Vania is the current Women’s Rugby Development Manager for the Blues Region at New Zealand Rugby and she also commentates for Sky Sport. She created the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup Tournaments (PAC) which originally focused on the Pasifika and Maori space, starting with four teams in 2013 (Samoa, Tonga, Cook Island and Maori). It has now developed and evolved into a bi-annual event open to all – for schools, clubs and culture groups, whilst still capturing the Pasifika and Maori cultural flavor. Last year, it grew to 50 teams.
Earlier this year, Wolfgramm collaborated and organized the New Zealand Women’s Rugby Invitational Tournament (NZWRIT) at the Silverdale Rugby Club in Auckland. There were approximately 1100 participants from senior women’s, under 18s and junior girls’ grades. It’s one of the biggest women’s rugby festival in the world.
Each participant gets paired with a mentor and in Vania’s case, she will link up with Stacey Allaster from the U.S. Tennis Association.
“I asked GSMP what sport in America is the most even or close to, in terms of men’s and women’s equality. That’s in terms of structures, sponsorship, player pathways and high performance to community levels and they came back with tennis. I’m super excited to soak up all the information and come up with a great plan to implement back here.”
Wolfgramm will fly out to the US this week.
Fellow former Black Fern Melodie Robinson has also attended the GSMP course in the past.