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Bringing peace to a storm nobody wants to address

By Mary Ieremia-Allan

Mary Ieremia-Allan recently won the GirlBoss Sport Award. Mary is a New Zealand representative in touch rugby and hockey and holds the Hamilton Girls High School record in triple jump. The 18 year old shared some powerful messages when accepting her award, paying tribute to the unconditional support from her family, and how she uses emotion to motivate rather than hold her back.


I am a somewhat simple girl, with a simple cause, pursuing a life of absolute chaos. You see, sporting to me is part of the platform of who I am.


The foundations of my athleticism can be traced back to dodging jandals flying with incredible speed from my Aunty’s hand. My aggressive competitiveness can be traced back to being winded, clotheslined, ankle tapped and every other illegal rugby tackle you can imagine from my older brothers. 


As you can tell, traditional gender roles have never been observed in my family. In most cases, it is actually survival of the fittest.


A lot of the time you hear sporting speeches about strategy, being the hardest worker in the room, leading by example.


But as I sat down to write yet another sporting speech on how to be the best you, an overwhelming emotion started to build, and build, and build.


Anger - my lifelong companion since before I can remember.


Now, I am not going to commence some speech about my mental health journey, or give you a TED talk on athlete rehabilitation.


Instead, I am here to bring peace to a storm nobody wants to address.


Experiencing heightened emotions is a universal thing. However, for women there are different standards, and much stigma.


Taylor Swift once said ‘A man does something, it's 'strategic'; a woman does the same thing, it's 'calculated’. A man is allowed to 'react'; a woman can only 'over-react’. A man 'stands up for himself, 'a woman 'throws a temper tantrum’.


In an avenue where performance is reliant on your mental toughness, female athletes are still confined by these dusty and outdated ideologies. 


Anger is also a feminine trait.


“Me aro ki te hā o Hine ahuone” - Pay heed to the mana of women. 


Before initiating the inaugural youth submissions on Hamilton City Council's 10 year financial plan, it was on the athletics track where I learnt how to focus my anxiety into a swift progression of movements.


Before leading Hamilton Girls’ High School as the Head Prefect, it was in the international touch rugby matches where I learned the art of composure. 


Before tutoring Pasifika students through NCEA levels and choreographing siva Samoa, it was on the hockey turf where I fuelled my frustration into passion at the lack of representation in majority-dominated spaces.


Before composing pieces of classical music for members of the NZ symphony Orchestra, it was at swim training where I left my stress on the side, and focused on the rhythms of life.


Sporting failures and successes have shaped my character, but have more importantly taught me how to control and utilise the raging emotions I feel so often.


Women were created to fight. Women were created to nurture. Women were created to pioneer. Women were created to lead. Women were created to feel.


There is a whakataukī that I feel speaks to this. Like all indigenous cultures have practiced for centuries, and even millennia, “Me aro ki te hā o Hine ahuone,” - pay heed to the mana of women.


Because a woman in all her drive, expertise and fierce passion, is a powerful being.  


The GirlBoss Sport Award is proudly sponsored by ANZ.



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