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, Holly Taylor, who is a girls’ Rugby coach for Hove Rugby Club. Holly has won a RFU Rugby Hero Award for her work in school providing girls’ rugby and was one of the people who built the girls’ section at Hove Rugby Club.
We chatted with Holly to share her personal experience with sport growing up and why she is passionate about boosting opportunities for women and girls to engage with rugby.
What was your experience with sport growing up?
I grew up in small town and there wasn’t much offering for girls’ sport outside of Netball, which I thought was boring, and Rounders, which was only done in the summer. I did participate in the tournaments, but I didn’t find it very exciting.
So, I was viewed as not being “sporty”, and I just thought that was who I was.
After I had my first daughter, I tried out spinning classes and things, and I really loved the challenge and my interest in sport grew from there. So, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really got into sport.
What inspired you to become a coach?
Pretty much the same thing that inspired me to become a teacher – to encourage people to have self-esteem and confidence.
Lots of young people today, they’ve got a lot of “chat” and you’d think they were confident, but inside they have a void where all their confidence and self-esteem should be. I think a lot of it has to do with social media and the pressures they face.
Sport is such a great gateway for getting those things off your mind, especially when you play contact sport – you actually can’t think of things outside of what you’re doing in that moment, and I think that’s brilliant for kids to get involved in.
It was my other half who suggested that I become a girls’ coach with him at Hove Rugby Club when he first began starting the section (there was no girls’ Rugby before that). He thought it would be great for the girls to have a female role model and I’d learn so much more about Rugby as I hadn’t been playing long at that point.
Why are you passionate about encouraging more girls and women into sport?
A lot of it revolves around strength and, especially recently, there’s been a real highlight on how women just don’t feel strong and don’t feel safe.
When you play a sport you have a band of other females around you – especially if it is a team sport – that can encourage you and help you grow and be strong. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean weightlifting strength, but even confidence grows from doing a sport.
For me personally, knowing I can go and smash out a game on the Rugby pitch is a really great feeling. And it does make you feel confident when you walk down the road because you think: “yeah, I can handle myself”.
Also, that confidence transfers over to professional situations. I’m much more confident with managers and to speak up for myself in the workplace, and I think sport could help so many other women and girls out there.
What would you say to other women or girls who aren’t sure if sport is for them?
It’s honestly like picking up books or films or music – you’re not going to love every genre. Just because you tried football or netball or going for a run and didn’t enjoy it, doesn’t mean you hate sport.
I couldn’t stand Netball growing up, but I always liked Martial Arts, so I knew contact sports were more fun for me. My other half encouraged me to try Rugby and the first session I said, “this is amazing!”. I don’t think I’d ever gone to something else and thought that before.
I think people get a bit caught up in the “popular” things to do for women., but just because something has been marketed at men traditionally doesn’t mean it’s not for you.
I think everyone has something for them and it’s just about finding it. It can be a really long and annoying process, but when you get there it’s worth it!
Find out more about Hove Rugby Club and their girls’ section here. You can also get in contact with them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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