As The Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens competition comes to an end in Birmingham we tracked down a former international Seven’s player who’s since turned entrepreneur by building an innovative pod based dry cleaning and laundry business – Peters’ Cleaners.
Vicky Whiter represented Hong Kong in Sevens rugby from 1997 to 2001, and was part of the Hong Kong team in the inaugural Hong Kong Women’s 7’s in 1997 which was notably the only team to score against New Zealand, eventual winners.
“My family had always been rugby supporters,” said Vicky.
“While I enjoyed watching it, I didn’t get involved in playing until I went to Hong Kong in 1993.
“My friends all played rugby and on a Saturday we’d meet up and they would talk about the game and I would feel left out.
“They talked me into coming to a training session in 1994 and I never looked back!”
Having retired from rugby in 2004, Vicky’s business experience led her to become an innovator in the laundry and dry cleaning sector.
In the 90s, the HKRFU (Hong Kong Rugby Football Union) had a particular passion for investing in women’s teams.
“Back then, women’s sport wasn’t respected like it is now,” Vicky added.
“In June 1996 we traveled to Japan for two invitational games as part of the first ever Hong Kong 15s women’s team.
“I had only been playing rugby for 10 months at this stage but my experience of playing hockey benefited me and I scored two tries.
“We were so lucky and it was such an incredible experience. The HKRFU even provided us with full kit, flights and accommodation – more than any other rugby union was doing for women’s rugby at the time. We also featured in Japan’s rugby magazine.”
In 1997 the HKRFU also supported the women’s bid to host the first ever World Women’s 7’s Tournament. This was a defining moment for Vicky when her team scored against New Zealand.
“It was such an exhilarating time. We felt like we were doing something really different and flying the flag for women in sport.
“So many young women these days can’t remember a time when female athletes were so underrepresented. For me, it’s important to have female representation in all areas of life.
“I am thrilled to see that coverage of women’s sport is much wider now and hope that fans appreciate the level of skill, training and commitment required for women’s sport is the same as that for men’s.”
During her days playing rugby, Vicky was part of the committee that set up the inaugural Hong Kong Women’s 7’s in 1997. She is also the CEO of Stamford and Peterborough’s fastest growing dry cleaning company, Peters’ Cleaners, who designed and launched a new automated dry cleaning and laundry pod concept.
“I just love innovation and being the first person to do something,” Vicky enthused.
“This started out with rugby and has snowballed from there. I certainly know how to keep a rugby kit sparkling clean too (a drop of fairy liquid, a 40 degree wash and air drying are my top tips for grass stains!) 😉
“In rugby I particularly love that there is a part for slower, stronger people as well as fast, little people – athletes of all shapes and sizes. I love the team environment – the girls I played with in Hong Kong over 25 years ago are still some of my closest friends despite the fact they are scattered around the globe.
“The same can be said for business – if you have a great idea, you should run with it and have the confidence to see it through. You have to believe in yourself.
“And, whilst we weren’t awarded caps at the time, a few years ago the HKRFU recognized our international cap status – which was just incredible.”
For more information on Peters’ Cleaners visit www.peterscleaners.co.uk