The 2016 Premier Women’s Grand Final. The whole year has come down to this. Rihanna’s “Work” pulsates through our tent, as we flurry about taping black bands on our arms to honour the recent passing of Lilia Tafua. Deep heat, Johnsons baby oil and perfume coated nerves spray across the room.
“Let’s go ladies!”
Eyebrows furrow. Shoulders pull back. Left, Right, Left we march out of the tent and line up. Our children, nieces and nephews’ hands clasp ours, causing our lips to curl upwards, even if only for a second.
This is it.
Our U16 boys usher us onto the sanctuary with a haka so electrifying it surely must have descended from the throne of Asgard.We pray. We chant, “TAIKA RAAAAAHHHHHHHH”.
When my now-8-year-old daughter found out our half Charntay Poko (Poko) was going to walk out with her, she “cheeehooooo’d!!”And said, “You might as well call me MP, it’s short for Mini-Poko, because like, she’s totes like Superwoman on the field”.
You see my daughter can deliver a sermon on Poko’s vision and ball skills, pen a psalm about Poko’s ability to steer the game and share a compelling testimony on Poko’s stats this year: 57 goals, 1 drop goal and a sweeping total of 155 points. Her hero is a ‘Superwoman!’ I’d like to sit here for a minute and share 3 lessons I’ve learnt from Rugby league this year around this notion of a Superwoman.
Lesson 1: A superwoman follows another superwoman.
Meet our Papanui Tigers Coach and Trainer Vicki Campbell. Vicki (Vic) has been married to Jono for over 13 years and they have two beautiful children, Charley (7)and Sadie (5). She is of Maori, British, Samoan and Niuean descent and has fully utilized her mixed heritage in the sporting arena.
Vicki’s CV: NZ Kiwi Fern representative, NZ Touch Representative, Manu Sina representative playing at 2 Rugby World Cup Tournaments, Samoan 7’s team, Fetu Samoan Rugby League team, Niuean touch team and Canterbury NPC Rugby representative.
She is a sports mentor, and youth worker in the community and in schools around Christchurch and is about to embark on an entrepreneurial journey by opening her own F45 gym in the next couple of months.
Every team, whether it’s a corporate, community or sports outfit needs a clear set of goals. Vic established these goals from the get-go:
1) Win the 9’s tournament
2) Win the Premier Women’s championship and
3) Get some girls into the Kiwi Ferns squad.
The Gallup Strengthfinder’s questionnaire determined her top strengths as 1) Discipline 2) Developer, 3) Relator, 4) Adaptability and 5) Deliberative. In the Myers-Briggs framework she is Sensory and a Thinker (ST). It’s no surprise then that she is a fitness freak and phenomenal athlete. Vic always trains with us, and we are mindful that it is probably her 3rd or 5th workout for the day. Vic believes that if we can capture our girls young, they will love league for life! Such is her influence that our Prop’s 7-year-old daughter said to her coach one Saturday morning, “That’s not how Vicki warms up, VICKI…does this, and this, and this!” Integrity is one of Vic’s highest values and this clearly permeates through our team culture. She is also the Canterbury representative in the newly formed NZRL women’s advisory committee.
Who are you following? Who is mentoring you?
Don’t forget that a Superwoman will always follow another Superwoman.
Lesson 2: A superwoman has an innercircle of Superwomen.
Meet the Whiley sisters Corrina (Pip), niece Tiara, and Jerusha (Jae) Whiley.
Every team, whether it’s a corporate, community or sports outfit needs to ensure that the Roles are clearly understood and accepted. Poko, Pip and Jae make up the core part of our leadership team. They are a tight-knit unit whose personalities complement each other perfectly. All of the decisions we make, from the team values to the mini-mentoring groups are made with this triumvirate’s input and direction.
Poko is an introvert, a high ‘intellect’ and ‘arranger’ who skillfully navigates the execution of our game strategy. Pip is an extrovert, a high ‘maximiser’ and ‘includer’ who has a strong awareness of individuals and simultaneously stimulates group excellence. Jae is an extrovert, a high ‘developer’ and a very strong ‘communicator’ who can confidently relay expectations and direct her side of the field.
Their Kiwi Ferns mission dictated a big part of their schedule this season: Monday- recovery, Tuesday- Suburbs rugby training, Wednesday- skills training, Thursday- Suburbs rugby training, Friday- Papanui Tigers League training, Saturday – Suburbs Rugby Game, Sunday- Papanui Tigers League game, that’s not including their own personal running and gym sessions of top of that. Poko and Pip are studying at the University of Canterbury towards Human Science degrees and Jae is a youth worker for Child Youth and Family. If rugby league is a lifestyle- these young women of influence live it. They say if you want to know where you will be in 5 years, look at the people around you and the books you read. A Superwoman will always have an inner circle of Superwomen.
Lesson 3: Superwomen help the women around them discover their ‘Super’ powers.
Every team, whether it’s a corporate, community or sports outfit will have a ‘culture’, which governs how its members feel about and treat each other. Being a new team we were polite and very divided at the start. Then we went through a storming phase where some of our girls had to have courageous conversations with each other. Vic and I let the girls sort this out amongst themselves, as these storming stages establish a pecking order that is a necessary prerequisite for normalizing our team culture.
How do Superwomen take those around them to a higher level?
They have a high level of self-belief. They know that the critics or haters exist, but they do not pay attention because they are too busy working hard on achieving their own dreams. Their focus, consistency and energy allows the women around them to find their ‘Super’ powers too! Marian Williamson put it so aptly in her quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us: it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
One of our rookies recently posted this on her Facebook page:
“Self doubt is thought about more often than it should. I care more than I should of what people think of me. I hadn’t played a sport in so long, when I heard that Papanui was putting in a woman’s league team this season, I was excited but nervous/ embarrassed that I would be useless…I have had the most inspiring season with my league girls. They’ve taught me alot about myself without having to say anything. They believed in me, encouraged me and supported me at trainings and on game days. I am proud of how far I have come.”
Note the change in her language!
Words have the power to tear down or to build up. We choose to magnify the positive in our athletes/Superwomen. We choose to appreciate their strengths. We believe they are significant women of influence. We know that when our Superwomen are valued, their mana can positively change any world they walk into. We choose to build not just in our community, but learn from those paving the way nationally too. I just want to take a second here to honour Kasey King-the General Manager of Counties Manukau, and Superwomen Sarina Cee Fiso – Kiwi Ferns captain, Teuila Fotu-Moala-Kiwi Ferns beast (can I have your autograph please?) and the Auckland champions Manurewa Marlins. Thank you for your time, kind words and inspiring messages leading up to our Grand Final.
So to reiterate those 3 lessons: 1) Get around someone who has the attributes you aspire to have, 2) Look at your innercircle and make sure they are on the same mission as you and 3) As you chase your greatness, know that you give your friends permission to find their greatness too!
At the sound of the referee’s final whistle, my little Supergirl flew up to Poko and boldly proclaimed: “It doesn’t surprise me that you played that way, I think I should hold your hand again around the park!” and off they walked to collect our 2016 Gold medals.
Till next time Superwoman x