Glenrothes rugby: Girls tackling stereotypes and breaking down barriers

Glenrothes rugby launch initiative to encourage young girls to play the sport
Glenrothes rugby launch initiative to encourage young girls to play the sport

Glenrothes Rugby Club is launching a new initiative designed to encourage more girls’ participation in the sport.

Every Tuesday night at 6pm, Carleton Park training sessions are being held for girls of all ages, abilities and sizes, where they can learn new skills and make new friends.

Women’s rugby has suffered from unfair comparisons to the men’s game, outdated stereotypes and a lack of opportunities for young girls to play at grassroots level. However, perceptions are changing and it has become one of the fastest growing team sports in the world.

Glenrothes head coach Gavin Emerson has seen close up the health, fitness and social benefits the game brings through his role in Fife’s School of Hard Knocks programme. The project uses sport to make a positive change in pupils’ lives.

And as head coach at Glens he is encouraging more girls to get involved and try out rugby.

He told the Gazette: “The training is open to any girls who want to come along and try it. They don’t have to have played rugby before or even know how to play it.

“Sport is good at getting the endorphins going and is good for their mental wellbeing. The girls get to know each other and make new friends.

“We talk about barriers at School of Hard Knocks and these are broken down between girls of different ages. It gets them outdoors instead of sitting in the house playing on their phones.

“The group at Glenrothes is growing, we want to add an extra night of training and hopefully play a game by the end of the season.”

Scottish Rugby has made inroads into growing the sport in this country with their “Be the best you” initiative. In the last six months Glenrothes rugby has been looking into developing the women’s game and giving young girls a chance to play.

Katelynn Ashford (15) goes to Glenwood High School and she started playing rugby for Glenrothes when she was still at primary. She is delighted that more girls are being afforded an opportunity to play the sport she loves.

She said: “I was over the moon to hear they are starting this at Glenrothes. When I started I was the only girl playing there, but it’s great there are others picking up the sport. It’s a great game to play.

“I got into the sport through a friend at school. I wanted to do it because it was something a bit different. I loved it, everyone treated you with respect and I’ve made friends up and down the country. It’s definitely helped me with my social skills.”

Katelynn, who hopes to play professionally, moved through to Edinburgh to play for Murrayfield Wanderers. She has featured for the regional East of Scotland side and is part of the Scotland academy team.

She said: “Even though there is a competitive side and you can put in big tackles you are all friends and shake hands after the game. I think women are seen differently from men in the game but the coverage is improving.”

For more info on the training sessions held at Glenrothes visit the club’s Facebook or Twitter page.