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Rugby isn’t for Girls?

Written by 11-year-old Imogen Henderson, Hong Kong.

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Some people say “Rugby is not for girls”, but I say they’re wrong: Rugby has the power to transform and to teach you many powerful lessons.

This is an article for any girl who wants to challenge herself.  For any girl who wants to dream big. For any girl who wants to  feel strong. This article is for you.

I believe you can find the courage to achieve your dreams, and more, through the power of the sport. How do I know this? Because from the age of eight, this is what I’ve been able to learn and achieve for myself through this empowering sport.  

You learn about determination, dedication, and toughness.  Rugby is an amazing sport which has the power to change lives. I have had some tough moments in rugby where I have been challenged. You should expect to be challenged if you take up the game, because rugby is one of those sports where it can get tough.  But you should also expect to have fun. I have had some moments where I thought to myself, “Why am I here?” That’s all part of rugby. You will have unforgettable experiences and rugby will teach you to be dedicated and determined to win.

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You learn it’s all about the team. Sweat rolls down your face, your muscles ache and your lungs scream for air as time ticks slowly away.  In these moments, it would be so easy to give up. But it’s the people beside  you, encouraging you, supporting you, that keeps you going. You do it for them: Your teammates. Rugby isn’t an individual sport, it’s a team sport - and that is the great thing about rugby. As you train every week with them, and  play matches with them, you create a very special bond with them. It is hard to describe, but I believe it is an experience everybody should have.. Sum Sham, a Hong Kong Women’s 7s player, said that she feels “extraordinary” being able to play matches with her teammates because it makes her really happy. In fact, the feelings she gets from the game - pride, achievement, a sense of community - are a big part of, she says, why she plays rugby. From my  experience playing rugby with my team,  the Flying Kukris, I have met so many interesting people   from all over Hong Kong. It has made life so much more fun. The girls in my team are more than just my teammates. They have become my friends.

You learn to never give up on your dreams.  There are lots of times playing rugby where you feel that you can’t keep going and that you think it’s all over. But should you get back up and keep going? Yes, you should! Rugby is a good teacher. It constantly challenges you. It shows you the power of perseverance. We are all going to experience failures or disappointments at some points in our lives, but the people who get back up are the ones who succeed.  Dailo Lai a Hong Kong Women’s rugby player, has never thought of  giving up despite the challenges she has faced because of her love for rugby and the challenge it provides.

You learn that anyone can play rugby. Are you tall? Are you small? “Rugby is suitable for everyone,” said Siu Wing Ni Winnie, a Hong Kong Women’s 15s rugby player. No matter what size you are, you can play rugby and there is a position for you.  Small and short? You can play a position called scrum half. Fast and quick? Wing is the best position for you. Big and tall? Get ready to jump high and catch the ball. I was small and scared when I first started, but I quickly learnt that your size shouldn’t stop you from playing rugby. No matter what size you are, you can play rugby.

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You learn to be  stronger, more confident and tougher. Looking to become stronger and a more confident person?  Through rugby you gain both social confidence and body confidence, which are two major positives of the sport. Rugby will  make you stronger and you will be able to do a lot of activities  that you wouldn’t of been able to do before. I have been playing rugby for the Flying Kukris since I was seven years old. If I look back at when I first started, I have become much  tougher since. I have overcome many fears from playing rugby and I have also accomplished things that I found difficult. I have had so many opportunities from playing rugby and one of them is when I got to hold a banner representing  all Women’s national teams at the Rugby 7s in 2016.  The confidence that I built from playing rugby has made me more confident to talk to the rugby players when I got the opportunity.  Overall, I feel confident about being me! I know for a fact that rugby has contributed to this feeling.

Girls who dream big can accomplish many things. Playing rugby has changed my life and the life of many others. I have had unforgettable opportunities through rugby. Rugby may be a challenging sport, but if you  believe in your abilities, you can do anything. Keep believing in yourself and never give up on dreams. What are you waiting for?

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