Rugby dreams spur teen

By Lin Ferguson

Taihape teen Zoe Whatarau's dream was to be an All Black.

But when she was 9 her dad, a rugby coach, told her that even though she was a great little player she could never be an All Black because she was a girl and that would never change.

But rugby still remains the big love of her life, the 18-year-old said.

Recently the Feilding Agricultural High School Year 13 student won a Greenstone Insurance Scholarship of $5000 which would be an enormous help when she leaves for Otago University to study health sciences next year.

Her plan is to be a physiotherapist, she said.

Until a year ago Zoe went to Taihape Area School but rugby took over, she said.

As well as the Feilding High School girls' team, she plays for Feilding Old Boys women's team and was selected this year for the Manawatu Cyclones, the women's rep side.

"So it was really hopeless and all the travelling to get to practices and games was so expensive."

The Greenstone Insurance awards were given to passionate people of the Manawatu-Rangitikei region as part of the 2012 AMP scholarships.

This was the first year Greenstone Insurance have offered scholarships with the aim of rewarding and financially assisting high achievers within the region who are doing their thing, a spokesperson said.

Zoe's parents, Dave and Christine Whatarau, say their girl was always a fiercely determined child.

" ... Which has certainly been trying for us at times. However, we have always maintained that whatever she chooses do to she will do well as she is absolutely driven."

Zoe has trained hard for as long as they can remember.

"Her motivation astounds us at times. It can be a bleak cold morning and we hear the front door open and close at 6am ... it's Zoe going for a run sometimes to town to the gym or maybe biking to town.

"She will often do a gym session on top of an 11km run or bike ride and all before school."

But Zoe said the early-morning sessions are just something she does because she loves it.

"Well, I used to go running with dad and I suppose I'm just used to it, and of course I really enjoy it."

The family live about 11km out of Taihape at Mataroa.

"So there's plenty of hills around here to run ... it's great."

Playing rugby takes up most of the year now, she said.

After starting out as a midget player when she was 5 with her dad as coach, she has never lost interest.

"No way I love rugby ... I really love it. I think it's a real shame that the media don't give the Black Ferns [New Zealand women's rugby team] the coverage they deserve. It's all about the All Blacks and for females, it's only about the Silver Ferns and netball."

But Zoe said just because women's rugby is not at the forefront of media coverage it won't stop her from playing.

"No way, I play rugby because I really love it. I just think the media stuff is a shame, that's all."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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