Skelia Talks with Monika, Software Tester at Skelia Krakow

Women’s rugby isn’t something you hear about every day. Still, it gains popularity and attracts increasingly more people. Monika who works as a software tester at Skelia is also an experienced rugby player who has 6 seasons under her belt. In today’s #Skelia_Talks, she shares how she got interested in rugby and why she finds this sport so fulfilling.

— Greetings, Monika! Let’s start from the basics: tell us what you do and for how long you’ve worked in Skelia. Do you enjoy it here?

I’ve been working in Skelia since December. I’m a software tester so I check if everything works properly according to the requirements and try to find as many issues as I can. I like being here, the job is interesting and flexible. Also, my colleagues are very helpful. Even though I came to Skelia during the pandemic and remote work, we still managed to get to know each other. 

— Good to know! Now, tell us about your hobby.

In my spare time, I play rugby. In Poland, women play sevens rugby, a variation of the game that has 7 players in a team instead of the regular 15. It’s a tough and very dynamic sport. A match consists of two 7-minute halves. Players can either pass the oval-shaped ball backwards or kick it forward. They are allowed to tackle the opposing player who is carrying the ball. Points are scored by touching the ground in the opponent team’s end zone.

Rugby is quite popular around the world, there are many international tournaments. But in Poland, rugby is still not very common. Although it’s slowly changing: the Polish female national team had remarkable success with second place in the European Championships this year.

For the last 6 years, I’ve played in Juvenia, a rugby union club from Kraków. I’ve also served as a team captain since this April. Last season, we ended up in fifth place, while our best result was third place in 2019.

Right now, we are training on our own together with a few girls. Starting from this year’s season, I’ll be playing for Biało-Zielone Ladies, a club from Gdańsk. During the season, we compete with other teams in the Polish league and usually play 8 tournaments.

— Sounds like a busy schedule! And how much time do you dedicate to this?

Usually, I train 3-4 times a week. During the rugby season, we participate in tournaments that take place in different cities, so going there also takes some time.

— Since it’s still an unusual activity for most people, how did it all start with rugby for you?

I found out about the club on Facebook. Girls were organizing an open training and everyone who got interested was invited. It didn’t require any previous sports experience so I decided to give it a try. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn something new.

When I came around for training, I didn’t know anything about rugby, I didn’t even realize that such a sport existed, I had no clue about what were the rules or what I had to do on the pitch. But I liked it from the very start and I learned everything during training. Now, it’s going to be my seventh season in rugby. 

I’ve always liked physical activity but had difficulty committing and sticking to the plan. Being in a team gave me structure and purpose. From that point, I took an interest in other sports and generally active life. I bought a bicycle, started running, and took part in races. Without rugby, I probably wouldn’t have done all of this.

— It’s great to hear that one activity inspires you to take on many others. What would you say you like the most about rugby?

It makes my life interesting. It’s demanding and requires lots of hard work. During the training, you improve all aspects of your performance. They say that a rugby player is a “complete athlete” because you develop all kinds of skills: speed, endurance, strength, and agility. Since it involves close contact, you need to be well-prepared physically to avoid injuries.

Another important aspect of rugby is people. It’s both the team effort and individual contribution. It brings people together: during all those years, I’ve met great people and made good friends. Being a part of a team is an exceptional experience. You are around like-minded people and together you share your best and worst moments. During the game, you know that there is always someone who can help you. It’s the best motivation. You attend training regardless of the weather or even when you don’t feel like doing anything—because you want to improve and play better for your team.

We also get along well with our opponents. There’s a specific rugby culture with a so-called third half—time after a game or tournament when people drink beer and spend time together. I like being a part of that community. 

Playing any sport is empowering. You learn new things and improve yourself. You know what you can do and achieve. Rugby experience made me a much more confident, self-sufficient, and calm person. Training also serves as a reset after a workday, it helps me relieve stress and forget about unpleasant situations.

— What about the things that are challenging in rugby?

For me, the most challenging thing is keeping the balance between time spent on training and other things. It’s not always easy, sometimes I have to choose between a meeting and training. Having friends in a team helps here 🙂 Another thing I sometimes find hard is staying positive after losing a game or tournament. It may be difficult to not let negative emotions affect my performance.

— Do you have any specific rugby-related goals? Also, we would love to hear some of your recommendations to those who want to give it a try as well.

For the time being, I want to still enjoy playing, participate in tournaments, and become a better player in general. In the future, I plan on getting a coaching license to train others. Together with my teammates, we also want to establish a new rugby club in Krakow to create a safe and friendly place for all people, especially women.

What I would like to share is that beginning is not easy but it’s not the reason to give up. Everyone started not knowing much about rugby but with practice and good leadership, we gradually got better. If you worry about injuries, you need to know that during training we learn how to play in a safe way and aggressive play is strictly forbidden. In Poland, rugby is still quite new, so if you’re willing to spend time on a sport that is interesting and rewarding, anyone is welcome.

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About Skelia

Skelia, a Nortal company, is an international leader in building cross-border IT and engineering organizations and affiliate companies in Eastern-Europe. For over a decade, we have provided staff augmentation services to a diverse range of clients—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We operate in Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, and the US.