With the game finally spreading out of the Cardiff stronghold with new leagues forming in Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, there has never been a better time to get involved in touch. This is one of the few sports in which men and women can compete together on the same field, creating a truly unique playing atmosphere.
Gorllewin Gwyllt taks to Miriam Evans, one of the Wales Women’s most experienced players. Originally from Tumble in west Wales but based in London for the last few years, she recently represented west Wales at the inaugural Wales Touch Nationals. Here she discusses how and why she started to play touch and why she thinks more women should take up the game.
If you like throwing a ball around, you should take up touch. If you like running, you should take up touch. If you like team sports, you should take up touch.
I played hockey and netball whilst in school but then didn’t continue either once I left. Later when I was 21 I started to play rugby by accident really after being persuaded to go along for one training session to see what it was like. The rest as they say is history as I haven’t stopped playing since. What I rediscovered was how much fun playing a team sport is and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t started earlier or continued with another sport after leaving school. It is something I have always regretted. Rugby then led me to touch and recently I’ve gone back to hockey, after 16 years away from it (I have to do something when I retire from rugby!).
First Impressions of Touch
I got into touch because of the boys at my rugby club. A touch league had started locally and they realised if they found a couple of girls, willing enough to play with them, they would get two games a night (one mixed and one men’s). So that’s where I started one summer with the aim to keep fit out of season, improve on my handling skills ready for the start of the rugby season and to socialise. My first impressions was that it was very different to rugby tactically (even to sevens), it was fast paced, very competitive and also those from the southern hemisphere were a lot, LOT better than us as they had been playing since they were kids!
I loved the competitive element of it and also the fact that it can be mixed sides. In addition it’s an honest sport – which is very important to understand as it is so fast paced. I quickly moved from playing one to two games a night (the rugby girls set up a women’s team in the social mixed league in my second year so that we could also play two games a night!), and progressed to two nights a week then three!
The Game for Life
What keeps me playing touch? I love it! The beauty of touch is you can play it at any age at any level. I intend to play until I can’t play anymore. It is likely to go beyond my rugby playing days. Competitive wise I hope that in the future the women’s side of the sport will grow so that we could also have an over 35’s and 40’s side like the men do. I can see me always playing social touch.
A Game for Men and Women
Touch is both an exciting game to watch and play. It’s end to end action a bit like basketball in that respect. It’s got a great social/community feeling about it. It’s a great way of meeting people from all over the world not just locally. For girls/women there are not many sports that you can have men and women playing together at the same level together. It’s great for fitness too.
If you like throwing a ball around, you should take up touch. If you like running, you should take up touch. If you like team sports, you should take up touch. If you like competitive sports, you should take up touch. If you like social sports, you should take up touch.
Representing the Barcutiaid Coch (West Wales Regional Team)
I thought the set-up in west Wales was excellent. Very well run and organised with great training venues. I was impressed with the coaching levels and also the team spirit that was built up in a relatively short period of time. But what I loved the most was the amount of young people in the squad keen to learn and get involved. It was great seeing new talent coming through and maturing during the competition.
Everyone knows that west Wales was very much a developing team, with the most newcomers to the sport compared to the “internationally” stacked Cardiff and east Wales squads, yet I believe it was the squad that showed most improvement during the tournament and we certainly did not let ourselves down. I therefore think that 2014 is going to be even better for the west Wales team as they grow and develop even further through attracting new players and continued training, ready for next year’s tournament. 2014+ the Barcitiaid Coch/Red Kites will be a team to reckon with!
If you’re interested in starting to play touch, there are now a number of opportunities to do so across west Wales. In summer 2013, there are league modules in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, plus the newly-formed Wales Touch Series comes to Llandysul on Saturday 8th June. For more information, get in touch!
What about you, are you looking to get involved in touch for the first time this year? Are you in a team that wants to attract more female players? Leave your comments below.