Emily Millar: Malone RFC Girls’ Rugby Coach / Women’s 1st XV Team Manager
I am part of a coaching team at Malone that is involved in coaching girls rugby to Under 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s. This includes setting up the pitch before the girls arrive to leading sessions for the girls, working on both their individual and their team skills. We also regularly participate in Blitz tournaments which are organised across the province. At Malone, we are all about promoting girls’ rugby in a fun and exciting way, to get as many girls involved in the sport as possible.
I also recently took on the role of Team Manager for the Women’s 1st XV after their promotion to AIL this season. This has involved sorting team sheets, liaising with the other team on game day, co-ordinating substitutions for both teams and acting as a fourth official with the referee.
I had been playing rugby since high school and progressed through Malone Youth Girls team to Malone Women. Unfortunately in 2015, I received a number of serious head injuries and had to retire from playing rugby. I was absolutely devastated – after so many years of playing a sport that I loved, I could think of nothing worse than abandoning it and having to watch from the side-lines.
When I finally went back to watch my team play, I had a chat with my coach who encouraged me to get involved with the sport in a different way. I had been so inspired by my coaches who had volunteered multiple days a week to coach the sport that I loved, and so I thought that if I couldn’t play anymore, I’d love to pass on my love of the sport to others who could. I moved on to coaching the girls’ U14 and U16 teams, and that’s where I currently am. We have around 25-30 girls turning out every week, and I love every minute. Seeing more and more girls getting involved in rugby, learning new skills each week and beginning to look up to their coaches like I did is the best feeling. Getting asked to become Team Manager this season was great. Being back involved with the team that I used to play with has been really enjoyable and it is great to still feel involved in that aspect!
One particular highlight would probably be seeing the girls play a half-time match at an Ireland Women Six Nations match this year. After a big season of hard work, the girls were selected to represent Ulster and play against another province in-front of a sold-out crowd – they went down as underdogs but came away with a win which was amazing, and we were all so proud to watch their hard work pay off.
Malone RFC is one of the most inclusive rugby clubs that I have come across – no bias! We have rugby available for minis, youth and adults, as well as quickly-growing Girl’s and Women’s sections and even a mixed-ability adult team. There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t be made welcome at the club, and it is such an honour to be a part of that welcoming ethos. Without volunteers, the club wouldn’t be able to run and extra hands are always welcome. Whether it be coaching, doing team-sheets, cleaning up around the grounds or simply cheering from the side, everyone is welcome at Malone and you’ll be sure to find a role that suits you.