A couple of seasons ago I left the club I’d started my rugby journey with. There were a number of reasons for this none of which are worth dwelling on now. After a few month’s break I was invited to be the back’s coach for our regional women’s team.
That season in the county championship re-fired my love of the game.
I got to work with a massively talented group of players who wanted to be better.
An excellent example of this was after a home win against Cheshire where the score was 59-0 I’d had three players asking what they could improve on before they’d left the pitch. These players just wanted to be better.
We missed out on the final by a single point in the first season and have just started squad training for this year’s campaign where the competition for places was stronger again. It’s going to be a good campaign.
One of the brilliant things you find when pulling a group of players together from numerous clubs is the way they either bond or remain in their club groups. We were lucky that this group of players bonded and at the end of the season seemed tighter than groups who have been together for years.
A great example of this was how the group behaved off the pitch. Families and friends mingled and there were a number of social events held away from the games.
People became friends and connected on social media and the thing I’d like to share with you came from that channel. It started when one of the players posted a picture of her daughter with a school project where she had to put something together about her role model.
Boo, the young lady picked one of the Eastern Counties players as her role model. The player in question being Sophia, a number 8 and a young player who at the time of last year’s county championships was only just old enough to play senior rugby at 18 years old. She stormed the games, played out of her skin in all the games and took to the pitch with passion and aggression way beyond her age.
Now the funny thing is if you ask Sophia who her role model in rugby is she’ll tell you it is Steph Hanratty. Steph is Boo’s mum. Steph is again part of the Eastern counties squad and plays on the wing. She is also deaf and part of the England Deaf Rugby squad and will be heading to Sydney in the summer to represent her country at 7s.To finish this journey if you ask Steph who she looks up to in the game she’ll point to a young player now making her mark with Saracens in the Tyrells Premiership.
Georgie Lingham, who has now played a number of games for the premiership side was also part of Eastern Counties squad.
All of these are fantastic players, grounded individuals who work hard both on and off the pitch to be the best players they can be and in turn are inspiring young people to take up the game.
It is often said that you shouldn’t meet your heroes but in this case Boo, Sophia and Steph get to see them weekly and play beside them on a regular basis. This has to be inspiring and long may it continue.