As we enter the final week of the Tokyo Olympics, we want to celebrate women in sport, and especially all those who are helping to inspire and support more women in girls to get active in Sussex.
Meet one of our This Girl Can Champions, Hannah Fosbraey, who is a level 2 Rugby coach and was one of the people who built the women’s section at Pulborough Rugby Club.
We chatted with Hannah to share her personal experience with sport growing up and why she is passionate about boosting opportunities for women and girls to engage with sport.
What was your experience with sport growing up?
I wasn’t sporty at all when I was younger, I was always quite academic and loved reading. I used to enjoy watching sport like Wimbledon and the Olympics and my family were very into football so we always had the Premier League on television.
Growing up there weren’t really many women’s team sports featured on tv, so I never knew much about it and didn’t even realise that could be an option for me. I obviously did PE at school but never thought about finding a club outside of school or anything.
I went to Sussex University and in my first year I ate and drank anything I wanted and put on a bit of weight and became really unfit, so in my second year I decided I wanted to do something about it. There were lots of sports clubs for both men and women at university, so my housemate encouraged me to go to a Women’s Rugby taster session with her. I had never seen a Rugby match or even held a Rugby ball before, but I went along and the club was so welcoming and friendly, and immediately I loved it.
A few years later I decided to learn how to play cricket too and joined Hurstpierpoint Cricket Club. I realised that I particularly love the environment and the sense of community that you get from sports clubs.
What inspired you to become a coach?
The more I learned about team sports, and especially Rugby, I realised that it celebrates all different shapes and sizes, has a key set of values, and celebrates you for what you can do rather than the way you look. There is so much teamwork and friendship within it.
I really wished that I had this experience growing up as a girl and a teenager, so I wanted to make sure that other girls knew that this is available for them. Someone from the club I was at asked me if I could get involved helping some of the younger age groups. I said yes and started getting some of my coaching qualifications.
I then became coach of an after-school Rugby club for a girls’ school and eventually went on to coach Sussex University Women, which is where I originally learned how to play Rugby, which was a fun full circle!
Why are you passionate about encouraging more girls and women into sport?
Sport lifts women up. It’s where women can be loud, aggressive and strong, and all the things that we’re taught not to be, traditionally.
Sport gives women a platform to show what we can do and find out who we are. The more women and girls can get involved in team sports, the more we’ll change perceptions of what being a girl or woman is.
As well as being good for women as individuals and for their own wellbeing, it’s important for us as a group to be out there doing these things and showing people that we can.
What would you say to other women or girls who aren’t sure if sport is for them?
There is a sport for everyone, no matter your age, size, background or fitness level – it’s just about finding it!
If you’re looking for a way to improve confidence, mental health and fitness, it’s worth a try! You’ll learn new skills and make new friends and you’ll develop all of those things through a team sport.
Find out more about Pulborough Rugby Club here, and find out more about Hurstpierpoint Cricket Club here. You can also find local club finders for Rugby here and for Cricket here.
To meet the rest of our This Girl Can Sussex Champions, visit our This Girl Can Champions webpage.
Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ThisGirlCanSussex.