Social, cultural networking with ladies touch rugby
Written and translated by Diva Yang
photos provided by Logan Phillips
Johnna has been in Taiwan for four years now. When she was going to school in Chicago, she befriended a Taiwanese foreign student and, upon graduation, visited Taiwan for the first time when her friend came home for a brief vacation. At the end of the holiday, Johnna decided to stay in Taipei while her Taiwanese friend returned to the US for work. At first, it was really tough because the only person she knew on the island was gone and she didn't speak a word of Mandarin. She had zero social life. Then, just as she was pondering how to build her network in this new environment, she was introduced to SHEBABS and has since thene embarked on an exciting journey. Today, she gives full credit to SHEBABS for feeling at home in this foreign land.
Having grown up on a farm in Michigan, Johnna is quite athletic, but had never previously tried touch rugby. After twice-a-week practices with SHEBABS, she excelled at the sport and was named captain within a year of joining the team. Currently, her teammates consist of 10 Taiwanese women and 10 foreign women from all over the world. Attendance is at least 50% at each practice, when the girls run, pass and catch during the first hour and then break up into two teams to scrimmage each other. On Tuesdays, the practice goes from 8 to 10 p.m. and afterwards everyone heads over to a bar for a quick bite and some catching up over a drink or two.
For Johnna, joining SHEBABS has not only given her the chance to practice Mandarin but also provides a firsthand experience of cultural differences. "For instance, foreign teammates always respond to an email inquiry but the Taiwanese teammates prefer to be notified by a personal phone call," she notes. "Furthermore, on rainy days, Taiwanese teammates want to skip practice because they don't want to run the drills in the rain and play in the mud. On the other hand, foreign teammates don't mind and are prepared to get dirty!"
You don't have to be athletic in order to play touch rugby. Everyone always looks out for the new arrival and works to make her feel at ease with the sport and the team. If you're tired of working out in the gym or would like to exercise outside, SHEBABS is a good alternative. For practice, it's best to wear a loose T-shirt, shorts and sneakers--something to get dirty in. And you should put your hair up in a ponytail and trim your fingernails short to avoid injuries during matches.
SHEBABS is a very international sporting group and serves multiple functions, including cultural and language exchanges and social networking. It also meets with other Taipei female touch rugby teams for matches. The most important purpose is to discover your inner strength and the tremendous experience of joining team sports. After a while, teammates become a big family and gather for birthdays and major holidays throughout the year. SHEBABS has clearly become a home away from home for foreign teammates who currently reside in Taiwan.
Johnna would like to welcome any interested females to sign up and there's no age limit to being accepted. As long as you come with an open mind, you'll have fun with touch rugby. However, she adds, "Sorry to those who are looking for dates! It is a female team and for ladies only. The chances of meeting the opposite sex are rare!"
Taipei Female Touch Rugby
SHEBABS Captain: Johnna Yoder
Weekly Practice Schedule: Tue 8-10 pm (MinQuan Park); 週六/Sat 2-4 pm (under ChenDe Bridge)