SportsAid is aiming to shine a spotlight on the next generation of household names across Great Britain….your local heroes! Our blog series, entitled ‘Inside My World’, will look to offer you an insight into the lives of the country’s most talented young athletes while also offering them the platform to express themselves to a wider audience.
This time....it's China-Marie Kill, 18, from Reigate in Surrey. She is a rugby union player, currently supported by the Backing The Best programme, who currently features for England Under-18s and Under-20s. She is aiming to study Criminology at the University of Bath after completing A-Levels in Politics, Sociology and Public Services at Reigate College.
Here, China-Marie takes you into her world as she blogs about her burgeoning rugby journey, how she first discovered the sport, the influence of her father, the importance of being a role model and her future ambitions in the England Women’s set-up.
“When I was back at Reigate School in Year 8, my favourite teacher, Mrs Corder, decided to start a girls rugby team. I’d always been quite sporty, but I just didn’t know if I could see myself doing it at first. But Mrs Corder wanted me to do it as I had a loud personality and I was able to recruit other people, so eventually I gave in and went to the first session.
“After we did some tackling I just got such an amazing adrenaline rush. I’m quite a vocal character and the rush of that first session was incredible. I felt like I had the power to succeed and it was such a fast tempo game, while the technical elements of the sport also really appealed to me. After that, I joined my local club Sutton & Epsom RFC before getting selected for Surrey County Rugby Club that very same season.
“And having also performed well there, I then broke into the South East England set-up before eventually being selected for an England Centre of Excellence in 2018. When I broke into the England regional set-up was when I first thought people saw potential in me to make it, while now, playing for England Under-18s has been an amazing experience.
“I’ve also had the opportunity to train with the current Under-20s side because of some injuries that team suffered with props - my position - which provided me with an incredible experience and was a massive learning curve, exposing me to a higher intensity and better standard of rugby.
“Throughout my journey, I’ve always had very supportive parents - Julee and Sean. My dad’s always been my biggest fan in everything I’ve done, and is a very large character! He’s taught me to always be myself in every situation - it doesn’t matter what you’re presented with, and you should just be you and give your qualities.
“In every career you’ll obviously have setbacks, but he’s always taught me to remain optimistic and have the determination to never stop going forward. He's also always taught me there is good in every bad situation, and you just have to look for it - that’s impacted my mindset as both a person and an athlete, which is very important in terms of mental resilience.
“Another one of my greatest role models is former England star Maggie Alphonsi - I was researching rugby players once in school and Maggie came up, and I was quite shocked as when you search for rugby players it’s predominantly men. But then I watched a video of her playing and just thought ‘wow, this is incredible and I would love to play like her’.
“A few weeks later I was doing a touch tournament and she was there! I was so excited and nervous and was basically running around like a fangirl! I went up to her and asked if she had any advice for a young female rugby player, to which she responded: ‘everyone wants to improve their weaknesses, but you have to also make sure your strength is the best’.
“She also said ‘there are always going to be improvements to make, but having that wow factor is what makes you remembered’, so that’s really stuck with me throughout my career. My mum also loves her after meeting her at a SportsAid workshop in London - Maggie's such a strong, fascinating woman and is so inspirational for a person like me.
“Throughout my rugby journey, I’ve also always valued the importance of education - being in a small primary school made me a much more sociable person, and I always looked forward to going into school as I think there’s something amazing about learning new things.
“Being more confident throughout my time in school has also helped me become more confident on the pitch, and while I would love to be a professional rugby player, I’ve recently just completed A-Levels in Politics, Sociology and Public Services at Reigate College.
“Looking forward, I would love to study Criminology at the University of Bath, before eventually travelling around Europe to work in prisons - which I’ve always been fascinated by - and gain a greater insight into their differences and the varying rehabilitation processes. On the rugby side, my overall career goal is to be a prop who has all the skillsets and who inspires future generations.
“I want to break down the idea that you have to be the strongest and heaviest to be the best, and I want to be the player that makes children think ‘I want to be a prop too’. If I can make an impact and make children go to their rugby club and think ‘I want to be a prop because of China Kill’, that would be amazing in terms of having that effect on people’s lives.
“I want to play rugby at university as well as continuing to progress through the England Under-20s with the ultimate goal of being in the senior squad. I would love to win a World Cup - the unity when you’re working towards something as big as that, and affecting so many different people, would be something amazing to be a part of.
“In sport you always have a target, and for me, I’m motivated by myself while also wanting to make my parents proud. I think doing that for myself, as well as them, is really important. I’ve always had that motivation to do it myself and always looked for improvements, while not focusing too much on the future as much as I live in the moment.
“The prospect of playing for England and helping inspire a generation is amazing - it’s phenomenal to think that I could achieve something like that. Being a sportsperson involves a lot of childhood dreams, and to know that could be in my reach is something I don’t know how to put into words!”
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