Sydney Abel - Pride Ambassador for MU Rugby Club; 17 May

Before joining a women's rugby team, I always saw it as a "man's sport". Seeing massive tackles and larger-than-average bodies take the field, I never really thought that I would be able to excel at this game. So when I was approached to join a women's rugby team, I was nervous, but even more excited to play a full-contact sport. After my first training I was hooked. At the time I thought it was because I loved the game; I loved tackling people and making hard runs into contact where I was able to use my strength as an advantage. But it was the people and community where my love for the game was cemented.

Growing up a stone's throw from San Francisco I knew about the queer community, but never in a sporting sense, outside of the 'othering' of queer athletes. So when I joined the MURC it was the first place where I interacted with a group of athletic queer women and it finally felt like I found a sport where I not only belonged, but was accepted for being me. I found my queer identity through rugby. I saw women that I looked up to on the field living authentic lives outside the game and found myself.

From my first year playing rugby, I have grown into my queer identity, and discovered how I can also be that person who someone else may need in order to feel comfortable to play this amazing game. I have learned to be proud of my bi-sexuality, embrace my physical strength, and understand how I am only what other people see.

The inclusive community that is women's rugby has brought me lifelong friends, allowed me to play internationally, and given me the chance to be my truest self.

Photo: Left to Right: Sydney Abel, Ellia Green "Best 7's Player in the World", Emily Harvey, Captain.