Today marks the 2022 International Women’s Day, and, as last year, here at the Nottingham Sport, we catch up with several of our beloved county’s finest, female athletes (not that we need a reason to) for a chat – here we speak to West Bridgford RFC Ladies captain, and outside centre, Paige Baker.
With this years’ theme looking towards that of gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination for a diverse, equitable, inclusive world, and for Paige Baker, captain of a West Bridgford RFC Ladies side punching away in the Women’s Championship Midlands 2, playing such a physically demanding sport as rugby, has certainly come with its ups and downs.
“There was a lot when I was younger, starting out playing, but you adapt and get used to it as both sexes are playing,” began Paige, looking back at how she playing rugby was taken in her formative years.
“Now though, it’s nice to see that girls, women, are playing, not just rugby, but other sports as well.
“And, although everything is getting better, there’s still not that recognition as such, so for me, it makes you sit and think as to the reasons why.
“Overall though, I’d love for there to be bigger turn-outs, more involvement, not just within rugby, but across sports in general.”
Paige, a Physical Education teacher who spends a good couple of hours travelling on a match-day, has been in the oval balled game for over a decade herself, arriving at West Bridgford just a couple of years ago.
Granted the past few years have been difficult, for everyone, but Paige, as with everyone else, has got on with things the best she can.
“Rugby, it’s been a sport that’s always stood out for me,” continued Paige.
“I began at Ashfield, and just stuck at it; played tag rugby and progressed from there.
“Granted it’s been hard, mixing it with the boys until I was thirteen-years-old, and from there you develop, you learn, and you have to find places to play, whilst getting more girls to play as well.”
Now though, as they head into the business end of the season, Paige and her teammates are looking to finish as high as possible (they’re currently seventh, five points behind their weekend opponents in fifth).
However, they are also aware as to the toughness the current campaign has brought them, so, in Paige, there’s a want, a need, for both development and consolidation, a way to get themselves used to playing at a higher level, a tougher quality of opponent and play.
“The atmosphere is great, the social aspect is really enjoyable, and once you’re in the game, the mind-set, the focus, is on the game itself,” added Paige.
“My aim though, it’s see the further development of players, and bringing girls together.
“And, ideally, I’d love to get a couple more seasons where we are, in this league; yes, I’d love to be promoted, but as a team, we need to focus, we need to stabilise, and we need to keep pushing ourselves.”
Paige was speaking upon her return to starting XV for last weekend’s home game with Lichfield Greens, in the Women’s Championship Midlands 2, she having spent a couple of weeks side-lined with concussion.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @BridgyLadies Paige (far left) with her West Bridgford team-mates.