- 30-year-old Polley took up rugby last year
- Polley has helped form a team at Liverpool Collegiate RUFC
“When I feel myself going to those dark places I use rugby as an escape. As a way to release those thoughts.”
For Helen Polley, rugby has proven to be much more than just a sport. After struggling with depression she decided to relocate to Liverpool and joined a rugby team, Liverpool Collegiate RUFC – it turned out to be a life-changing decision.
'I had no idea what I was doing'
“I have loved watching rugby since I was young,” says Polley, who moved to Liverpool five years ago.
“I never played at school or at university but I regret not getting involved, I think rugby would have suited me then as much as it does now.”
Polley’s rugby journey began slightly differently to many others. A friend convinced her to help recruit players for a team and after a few months, she decided to give it a go herself. It proved something of a shock.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but it didn’t matter.
“It didn’t matter that I got scared in my first tackle, it didn’t matter that my opposite number in the scrum was twice my size, it didn’t even matter that we ran out the losers by a massive score because the whole team had enjoyed themselves, and we only wanted more.”
"It’s given me my best friends"
Since that first experience of the sport, rugby has become central to Polley’s life. She is now helping to build the side at Liverpool Collegiate who will compete in their first league from September.
Rugby has also helped her manage her depression, an issue Polley has been struggling with for years.
“I knew I had to change something because if I did the same thing every day nothing would change. My change was to play rugby.”
“It has changed my life. Rugby is what keeps me sane. I can go up and down but when I haven’t been to training I feel like I slip downwards. Being around my teammates gives me such a boost.
“They have become my best friends. They are the most reliable people in my life and we take care of each other.”
“Give it a try”
Having benefitted so much from the sport, Polley is now helping encourage new players into rugby and this week helped promote her club’s Warrior Camp.
“My advice to anyone thinking about doing it is go for it,” says Polley. “It can make a difference to so many parts of your life and that's what makes it so worth it"
For more information on England Rugby’s ‘Meet Your Inner Warrior’ campaign, aimed at getting more women and girls playing contact rugby, click here.
You can find out more about Mind and how to help deal with mental health related illness here.