Reflecting on my career

by Maggie Alphonsi, Athlete Mentor, Youth Sport Trust

Almost a month following that fantastic day when England won the Women's Rugby World Cup, and a week after my retirement announcement, I have decided to look back and reflect on my career and the impact the win has had and my role within the Youth Sport Trust.

My journey officially started when I was born, and I was diagnosed with a physical disability called club foot. At an early age this was corrected, enabling me to participate in sport. 

I grew up on a council estate in a single parent family. At a young age I did enjoy school but for the wrong reasons. I loved it more because I could see my friends and be disruptive in classes, which almost led to me being excluded.

I also loved sport though, and played in every team at school. My PE teacher suggested I take up rugby, as it would help me manage my discipline and allow me to maximise my strengths. I then joined my local rugby club Saracens at 13, which is when my career officially kicked off.

At the age of 19 I got my first international call-up, and I never expected that I would wear that white shirt for another 11 years. My international career officially came to an end on 17 August 2014, the same day England won the World Cup. My career has seen me play in three World Cup finals and win seven Six Nations titles. I have attained a series of personal accolades, including IRB Player of the Year, Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year, and the Rugby Writers Pat Marshall Award.

I was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate for my Services to Rugby, inducted into the London Youth Games Hall of Fame, and in 2011 was awarded an MBE on the Queen's New Year’s Honour List.

I have managed to balance an international rugby career with a full time job at the Youth Sport Trust. My role involves overseeing more than 80 ChangingLIVES Athlete Mentors. The work these mentors do is amazing and inspirational, and I am very fortunate to witness the impact they have on young people they work with. 

People ask me: ‘What next for Maggie?’ I am now looking to pursue a career in athletics with the hope to go onto Rio. Nothing is guaranteed but I believe whilst my mind is still competitive and my body is still in the best physical shape that it can be, I would like to see where this opportunity will take me, so the future is bright!