Leeds Rhinos Junior Trendsetter and young rugby player Rhiannon Horsman, 13, last week won the Sporting Achievement at the 9th annual St James’s Place Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards.
Horsman, 13, plays rugby for Oulton Raidettes, despite a debilitating syndrome and was inspired to play the game after being coached by Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Women and Girls Development Officer, Lois Forsell.
Forsell said: “I am so proud of Rhiannon for winning this award. I coached her at Farnley and now Oulton and she always works hard and challenges herself. It is clear to see how much she enjoys the game and is a pleasure to coach.
“Rhiannon faces many daily challenges so it is great that she has an outlet where she can have fun and play the game she loves and be part of a team. It shows what a great sport Rugby League is and what an inspiration she is.
“Oulton Raidettes have had an amazing season, finishing top of the league and I would like to wish Rhiannon and the rest of the team good luck in their final this Saturday.”
In 2017 Horsman, won an award for Most Caring Young Person at WellChild Award 2017 in London, hosted by HRH Prince Harry. She was recognised for her care for her brother and mother despite having health issues herself due to a genetic condition EDS type 3 that all three share.
“I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome which is a genetic condition and it means that all your ligaments and muscles aren’t as strong as everybody else’s,” she said. “They can click and come out of place sometimes or they can just dislocate quickly and go back in. It can cause a lot of pain and fatigue.”
“I’d always wanted to play rugby but my parents didn’t want me to in case I got injured because my muscles weren’t as strong as people my age. I did lots of physiotherapy which helped me strengthen my muscles and then my coaches know about my condition so they help me with extra exercises or change drills so I can be able to do them as well as everyone else. I now play for Oulton Raidettes and I’m a prop.”
Speaking about her pride for her daughter, her proud mum Sara, said: “She suffers daily pain and also anxiety and hearing issues. Despite this she plays rugby league, her doctors find it amazing.
“She throws herself into training and matches with abandon and is constantly improving in a sport that most with her condition would avoid due to the risks.
“On the night of the awards Rhiannon kept checking the result on social media at the Women’s Grand Final and mentioned Lois for being an inspiration.”
Interested in joining a local side? Click HERE for details of clubs who run women and girls rugby league teams in Leeds.
For more information on the work Leeds Rhinos Foundation do to support the growth of the women and girls’ game, contact email@example.com.