Tamara helping to change the game

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Last week’s People Power event at St James’ Park in Newcastle was an excellent regional training and skills exhibition, which included the opportunity to hear from a variety of talented speakers throughout the day.

My favourite seminar came from the second most capped rugby player in England and the Captain of the 2014 Women’s Six Nations Team, Tamara Taylor. Not only does Tamara hold a variety of titles, including 2015 Women’s Rugby Premiership Player of the year and 2017 Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Year, but she also spends much of her time coaching teams and speaking in schools to inspire the next generation of female players.

While rugby is not the natural career choice for many women, Tamara Taylor is on a mission to make sure that everyone can follow their dreams irrespective of their Gender, race or physical ability. Tamara began by asking the audience if they would support a female family member, friend or colleague wishing to pursue a career that has traditionally been considered a male job, before then offering her advice on how to achieve your goals and how to support others.

The first piece of advice Tamara gave us was about how to overcome the difficulty of taking that first step towards your goal. She explained that when she arrived at her first set of trials for the England team, she found herself not wanting to get out of the car. If Tamara had decided to turn around and go home, she might not have had the incredibly successful career that followed on from that day.

Tamara stressed that you should always get out of the car and that you should take as many opportunities as possible, even if the process seems daunting.

Tamara also discussed the #QueenRules project, which was set up in response to a five-year-old girl was asking why Kings are always better than Queens in a game of cards. The project went forward to create a new way to play cards where Queens outrank Kings, reengineering games like Solitaire and Texas Hold’em. They also produced a deck of playing cards displaying the Queen Rules artwork upon them. Tamara explained the importance of young women and girls seeing that the male card doesn’t always have to win and how even this small change to a game can reflect on society more generally.

Next, she went on to discuss the importance of diversity within a sport’s team. Rugby allows people of all different body shapes and sizes to play in a variety of positions. Many women have been able to find their place within the sport, as there is no one particular size or build that is more beneficial than the other, it’s the mix that counts. Not only is rugby diverse regarding body shape, but it also allows players from a variety of backgrounds to work together in a team and to mutually support each other through tough matches.

Finally, Tamara discussed how male and female rugby players are treated differently at events. Tamara has found that over the years male players have received much more attention from both the press and from fans asking for photographs and autographs. This talk has shown us that there is still a gender gap across sport, but Tamara hopes to narrow it through inspiring more girls to follow their dreams and by educating as many people as possible about the equal importance of women within a sport.

Tamara is helping to tackle unconscious gender bias, one talk and match at a time.

Rebecca Hutchinson
A PR & Marketing Intern with nesma on the Santander University SME internship programme.