I’m a chick. I play rugby. This is how it’s changed me.

First of all, dear readers, I need to apologise.

I’ve been slack. I haven’t written as much as I would have liked to. If I’m being honest with you, my creative juices just haven’t been flowing. I’ve had a bit of writers block. Every time I sit down to write or I have an idea, something stops me. I write a sentence and I delete it. I write a title and I stop the idea in its tracks.

Noone’s going to read this, Soph. I put my laptop away.

I’ve heard this happens to creative people sometimes. You go from having this creative energy to absolutely nothing. No inspiration. Just a blank piece of paper.

But something major has happened in my life and if you follow any of my social media accounts you’ll know what I mean.

What’s happened?

It all started around the middle of May. I intern for a Rugby club as part of their media team, which I am absolutely loving. That’s a story and a post for another time.

Part of my internship involves going to the first grade games and posting on their social media accounts.

So here I was, one afternoon, soaking up the last rays of the Autumn sun. I’m in my polo with my iPhone in hand. Someone announces that the Manly Mermaids will be playing an exhibition game against Easts.

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The Mermaids at training. Via @manly.marlins.rugby Instagram.

I hadn’t heard much about the Mermaids. I knew they existed but I didn’t know much about them.

I watched these fierce, fit women run onto the field in their red, blue and white jerseys. They had their mouth guards in. Their footy boots strapped on. They were ready to play.

I remember being totally in awe as they played. I felt a similar way when I watched our Australian Women’s Sevens play at the Olympics last year. Just totally in awe. These women were playing a sport that had been undisputably a male domain for decades. Centuries even. They were making tackles. Passing accurately. Finding gaps. Scoring tries.

The Mermaids ended up winning that game. By alot. I was, and am, so proud of our club. Not only did we have a women’s team but we have a good women’s team.

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Image by Adam MacDonald.

That evening I went home after the first grade game and I sent an email to our General Manager asking whether I was too late to register for the team.

He replied quickly and told me I should come down to training and decide from there. Most players are beginners so don’t worry about your skill level, he said.

In the days leading up to the training I was debating whether I’d made a mistake.

Sure, I’d grown up watching footy but I’d never tackled anyone in my life. Nor could I kick. Or pass very well. I didn’t know how to play Sevens.

What had I gotten myself into?

But I’d committed.

So I went and by the end of the hour I knew I’d made the right decision.

 

Me
Image by Adam MacDonald.

The ladies could not possibly have been nicer. Our coach could not have been better. They made me feel comfortable and welcome. And it was fun. I hadn’t anticipated that it would be so much fun.

 

The Change

If you told me this time last year that I would be playing full on contact rugby I would have laughed in your face. I would have gone through a list of excuses.

I’m too small. I’m too skinny. I can’t tackle. I’ll embarrass myself. I don’t know the rules. I’ll mess up and everyone will laugh.

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Image by Adam MacDonald.

But that’s what holds us back. The unknown and the fear of embarrassment and failure. Women, generally, don’t like to try new things out of fear of humiliation or judgement.

Now I understand how powerful representation is. I understand how important it is to see women play elite sports that were once only for men. Because they inspire girls and women like me to give it a go when those doubts arise. That inspiration is what you need to push through and try when everything inside you tells you not to.

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Image by Adam MacDonald.

It’s amazing what playing sport can do and how it can change all aspects of your life.

I love my team. I love how strong and capable I feel. I love that I’m a part of something that’s new and developing and exciting. I have something I can work towards and be proud of.

And I’ve found a place where I’m confident I belong.

 

 

 

 

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