International Women's Day: Dana Macdonald
Although participation levels of rugby continue to grow for women and girls, the same cannot yet be said for off-field activity, with only a handful of women in club leadership roles.
To celebrate International Women's Day, Scottish Rugby spoke to Fraserburgh RFC President, Dana Macdonald who wants to encourage more women to get involved at their club.
Over the last ten years, rugby in the north-east of Scotland has seen a surge in the establishment of new clubs, teams, and general engagement in the sport. In 2014, Fraserburgh Rugby Club stepped onto the scene led by Dean Underwood and Andy Homme Stott.
Fast forward to 2021, the club now boasts senior teams for both men and women, plus pathways for micro, mini and youth rugby.
For recently elected club President, Dana Macdonald, the introduction of rugby to Fraserburgh has been “refreshing”.
Dana first joined the club in 2018 when a friend, Sharon, had heard the club was offering women’s training.
“I was looking for something new for keeping fit and Sharon was keen we gave rugby a shot. It was a case of, you know, ‘if we don’t like it, we don’t have to go back’.
“On the night we were scheduled for our first training session it was raining horizontally. And I was like, ‘are we really doing this?’. But from the get-go everyone was so welcoming and made you feel like you belonged.
“When would you normally spend two hours in the freezing rain? You just wouldn’t. But we had so much fun! To be in an environment where you didn’t really have to do anything to fit in, was really refreshing. I found a place where I wasn’t mum, I wasn’t the boss, I was just Dana who plays rugby."
I really wish I had found rugby sooner. But growing up there just were not those opportunities, not just for women but in general. I’m just glad that we’re in a position to change that now for future generations. Dana Macdonald, Fraserburgh RFC President
After five years in the role, in 2019, President Dean Underwood was looking to step down. Having seen the skills and organisation Dana had brought to the club through social events, Dean proposed at the club’s AGM that he would do one final year, if he had a Vice President who would then be considered for the position the following year, and subsequently nominated Dana for the role.
“Quickly after Dean put forward my nomination for Vice President, the motion was seconded. I didn’t have that much time to really think about it, but I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I accepted the role.
“One of the reservations that I had was that Dean had gained so much respect from everyone at the club, so I knew I had pretty big shoes to fill. No-one likes change, and I was unsure about how some people might react to a new President, let alone me as woman in the role. Respect is something that is earned regardless of what gender you are. I feel that I have gained the respect from the members of the club, which really means a lot to me.”
Although Dana had her reservations about taking on the role, she sees this new position as a change to inspire the next generation of women and girls at the club.
“I want to show the other girls and women in our club that they can do it too. Even if it’s just one girl I can give that bit of confidence to and get them to believe in themselves, I’ll be happy.
“Rugby clubs are often male dominated, but that doesn’t mean to say they’re not for women. Especially at clubs which have a pathway for girls and women, I think it actually becomes more important to have a female presence on the committee. You deserve to have your voice heard too.
“I wouldn’t describe myself as the most confident person, but I know how I work, I have good ideas and I know that the committee is behind me. I believe that I can help our club be better and do more for the community.”
Although the domestic game remains on hold due to Covid-19, Fraserburgh are excited for the next phase in their journey with Dana at the helm.
“The committee is really focused, and we have so many good ideas which naturally have been put on the back burner because of the restrictions. However, once things go back to normal, we’ll be ready to support our members with the return to rugby and all the other fun that comes with it.”