In a year where men’s rugby will dominate the headlines, Guinness has unveiled the inspirational story of a Japanese women’s rugby team who stood together, in the face of societal pressure, to pursue their passion for the game.
“Liberty Fields” tells the remarkable tale of a group of women who defied the social conventions of 80s Japan, by forming an ultimately indomitable rugby team. In 1989 Tokyo, women’s rugby was almost unheard of and the team faced ridicule and hostility from all angles. Despite their humble beginnings, many of them were selected to represent their country in the Women’s World Cup.
“Liberty Fields” is the latest story of the iconic “Made of More” series, which champions real people around the globe who act with extraordinary integrity and character to enrich the world around them. Previous films have included ‘Sisters’, which told the story of two sisters who rose through rugby to eventually play for opposing England and Scotland national teams, and ‘Never Alone’, which recounted the poignant story of Gareth Thomas, who through the strength he received from his team had the courage to become the first openly gay professional rugby union player.
Ms Kishida, of the Liberty Fields team, sums up the pioneering spirit, saying:
“It was back in the day, when getting harassed, sexually and otherwise was a given. Men expected women to be young, pretty and willing to quit their jobs for marriage. At the time, the women’s team weren’t recognised as official. So, we founded our own organisation.
We lose if women can’t play rugby. The reason why we’ve kept on going is because we don’t want to lose. I wanted society to accept that women can love this kind of sport too, not just men.”
Former Irish International Rugby Player Lynne Cantwell and Chair of Sport Ireland’s Women in Sport committee goes on to comment:
“Women’s sport has made significant strides in recent years. It has become much more visible yet plenty of barriers remain not just in terms of getting women involved and staying involved, but also perception. The story of “Liberty Fields” rings true to this day and shines a welcome spotlight not just on the obstacles to be overcome but the many benefits society stands to gain from overcoming them and creating a more inclusive and diverse culture in sport and beyond.”
Former Irish International Rugby Player, Jamie Heaslip said:
“Liberty Fields highlights the importance of camaraderie well beyond the field of play and the role it has in enriching the lives of those involved. This is an opportunity that should be available to all regardless of gender. There does remain a significant contrast between men’s and women’s rugby in terms of attendance and investment but not in terms of the player’s commitment. We can only begin to change the former by highlighting the latter and through telling stories such as that of Liberty Fields.”
Recently, the Guinness team has worked to ensure it supports diversity within the sport of rugby, becoming a Proud Partner of the Women’s Six Nations in 2019 with a six-year partnership, as well as painting the historic St James Gate at the Guinness Storehouse to support its partnership with Union Cup, Europe’s biggest LGBT+ and inclusive rugby tournament that took place in Ireland for this first time this year.
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