Brazil’s former footballer Maria Graf on “inspiring” Brazilian women to take up rugby league — Women’s Sports Alliance

    The Amazonas were overwhelmed by a much more experienced side during a 72-4 victory, but the largely youthful supporters celebrated the nation’s first-ever World Cup try, by Natalia Momberg as if it were one of their own.

    This was an achievement four years in the making. 

    Until a fortnight ago they had only ever played that sole international fixture – a win against Argentina on 26 Oct, 2018 – before a creditable 12-4 defeat to France in a World Cup warm-up match.

    Captain Maria Graf recalls how challenging this path has been.

    Rugby League is in its infancy in her homeland with just 300 people estimated to play – across the women’s and men’s game.

    High population areas of Brazil rarely have parks big enough in which to play, meaning participation is almost exclusively limited to smaller cities, making it difficult to establish regular training camps, let alone fixtures.

    “Me, for me it’s been challenging because I live in the south of Brazil and I need travel 12 hours by bus to Sao Paolo to meet the team,” she tells the WSA.

    “I know how hard we’ve worked as a team in this short time and for us it doesn’t matter about the score, we are happy because we are making history at the World Cup.”

    “It was tough, but our history here is still beginning and this was a special moment for us.”

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