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Danielle Phillips does not look like your average rugby player. In fact, this is one of the stereotypes that she wants dispelled. Danielle, who has been playing for the past ten years, said that one did not have to look a certain way or weigh a particular amount of pounds in order to play rugby.
She added that this was one of the many misconceptions that deterred females from joining the sport. That, and the fact that it is considered a male-dominated sport. “You don’t need to fit the stereotype of a female rugby player. I would like to see an increase in the number of women who play rugby in Barbados,” she said, “Rugby is male-dominated and it’s very hard as a female to come up in the sport. You have to earn that respect; you have to be tough physically and mentally.”
The 28-year-old added: “It’s mind over matter. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. I’m not the largest on the field so I have to really put my mind to going out there and doing my best,” she noted.
Danielle said she had seen many females show interest in the sport but that interest quickly waned. “Rugby is not one of the popular sports here. I’ve seen women start to play then they stopped. I fell in love with it and won’t be stopping anytime soon,” she assured.
She pointed out that it was difficult in the beginning but the team embraced her and encouraged her to keep trying, a challenge she welcomed. “It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be; the movements doesn’t come naturally since u have to pass backwards. It was a challenge, and that’s what I liked about it,” she said, adding that the team was like a second family where camaraderie was the norm.
But rugby is not the only sport that Danielle has thrown her hand in. Admitting that she was naturally inclined to sports, she has played football, netball, volleyball, table-tennis and hockey.
The captain of the national women’s team said that sports played a crucial role in the lives of young people and she hoped it would be made mandatory in schools. “Sports is a very important mechanism yet so under utilised. It changes your perspective and helps you to see the importance of being a team player, and time management,” Danielle said, “You may even find a role model in your sport to help to guide you.”
The former Harrison College student, who has a degree in Tourism Management, said rugby was not her only passion, and anyone that knew her knew of her love for eccentric hairstyles. “I’m actually quite passionate about hair. I like unorthodox hairstyles. People actually see my hair before they see me; it makes me stand out,” she said, pointing out that was individualistic.
“I march to the beat of my own drum,” she said.