International Women’s Day 2017 – #BeBoldForChange

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International Women’s Day 2017 – #BeBoldForChange

For those of you who don’t know, it’s International Women’s Day! We want to say thank you to all the women in our lives who support us and mould us (from our younger years to our continuing ones!), and especially to all the women who have broken boundaries in sport. The expectations and abilities of women and girls – what they can do, what they have a right to do – are constantly challenged as reshaped, and here we are as Wales’s first and only American Football team, part of the strong and growing network of women footballers (both amateur and professional) who show every single time we go onto that pitch that we CAN and we WILL play. As a team we like to think that we are a strong resource of support and encouragement for other women who join us, regardless of their skill and background, and challenging negative thoughts about what we can achieve and replacing them with a new and positive sense of empowerment.

This is a few of the Valkyries’ thoughts around what International Women’s Day means for them as a player ;

“The Valkyries is a sisterhood to me (Coach being an honorary sister!). I have never had this confidence or sense of happiness before; that I could do something like this and be good at it. As a team we encourage each other every step of the way. We help each other to believe in ourselves, and that’s also from the support of the South Wales Warriors. Since I can remember I’ve always been told I’m too loud, too heavy, too energetic, too embarrassing – “not what a woman should act like”…but at training I get told to BE louder, to hit harder, to stand up as soon as I get knocked down and make the hit. I feel like I truly belong here”

“I have often found that when women try to show strength and prove their voice or accomplishments matter, they are too busy fighting for what they want to achieve individually. Instead of working in unison, I see women trying to prove their own self worth whilst tearing other women down. Women sometimes forget that we are on the same team. It’s the same as the Cardiff Valkyries. We are all women from different backgrounds, different professions, have different body types and different family compositions. However, we are one team. We all have a role in the team. We face challenges together. There is no room for ego and we do not make people feel bad for mistakes. We are all human. We support one another which is why I am so happy to be part of this team. In the past, I’ve not attended new things as found other women to be too competitive and cliquey. The Valkyries is about fun, learning and working as a team. It’s a support network where everyone is encouraged to take part and ask questions. This is what women’s need, to be supportive of one another. Lastly, I would like to add that our coach is male and he is brilliant. I’ve asked him so many questions and he’s always helpful and ready to encourage. We also train with the South Wales Warriors and they help us with kit etc. This is true gender parity. This is an example of supportive gender relations and these are things which should be celebrated.”

“Being somebody who struggles to lose weight and prefers to lift weights than spend endless hours on a treadmill it was nice to find a sport that I both enjoy and feel that I could (someday) do well at, particularly in a team where everybody supports one another to do the best they can. Valkyries and football help me feel like, regardless of all the bits I don’t like, my body can do it”

“I joined the Valkyries at the start of this year and didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never been good at making friends with other girls due to my laidback/ tom boy nature and have mostly guy friends. I instantly felt welcomed and like I could be myself! There’s no judging like you see with stereotypical groups of girls. The gals have helped me to be myself and we always support one another whether that be in training or in our group chats. Supportive bad ass females are the best kind of females!”

“I joined Valkyries after the birth of my first child. It’s great to have some Me time and exercise with some truly remarkable people. I call them my Goddesses because each of them is astoundingly strong, bold and loving”

Unfortunately, however, the recognition of women’s achievement and experiences still has a long way to go. Women’s involvement in sport and higher tiers of managing and coaching still have plenty of room for development (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/39186461), and on the community levels the general levels of respect given to women (and women players) must change. For an excellent example read the experiences of Wide Receiver, Ruthhttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/international-womens-day-ruth-lewis?published=t

But of course these changes start with the small things; encourage one another, support one another, and be bold for change.#BeBoldForChange

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