A MUM of an 11-year-old girl playing in a boys rugby team cannot speak highly enough of how warmly her daughter has been welcomed and accepted.

Samia Dixon from Winsford, who has a lung disease, autism and ADHD, is the only girl in the Northwich Rugby Club under 12s boys side, whom she joined after not enjoying her time in an all-girls team at another club.

She enjoys trying different sports and her mum, Jenna Dixon, after taking advice from her consultant, encourages lots of physical exercise to help increase Samia’s lung capacity.

When Jenna suggested rugby Samia said: “I’ll give it a go.”

Samia started her love of rugby initially by joining the Northwich Walking Rugby group on a Monday night at Moss Farm, which she thoroughly loved and soon made some new friends.

A keen interest in the sport quickly developed and she joined another club's all-girls team for a few months.

Jenna said: "I had hoped that by her joining the girls team she would gain more female friends but apart from one young lady she didn’t enjoy her time there at all.

"So I asked her if she would like to play for Northwich but it was going to be all boys and her. She said she would like to so we gave it a go.

"She now plays in the under 12s group. The first Wednesday she turned up the coaches were fantastic with her. I had informed them that Samia had ADHD and autism so she needed clear instructions and would not like changes.

"I was told that the club does not discriminate against any disabilities and tries to be as supportive and inclusive as possible.

"That night she laughed so much and I was so pleased to see her enjoy actual rugby as much as she did the walking rugby."

Samia also takes part in the club's junior development programme, Northwich Superstars, which encourages children's involvement in the game in a fun and enjoyable environment.

"Since joining Northwich Superstars I have seen Samia make new friends, learn how to play full-contact rugby and really smile and grow in confidence," said Jenna.

"I have asked Samia why she is enjoying it so much and she replied 'I like playing rugby with boys and girls, but the boys I get along better with and they know how to have a laugh with me.'

"She says the best thing about Northwich Superstars is 'the coaches are really patient with me and my teammates are really caring'.”

Jenna is full of praise for the way the club's coaches and members have embraced Samia's involvement.

"I feel the club has a very welcoming attitude and does not discriminate against any health issues or backgrounds. Literally all are welcome," she said.

"I know her teammates originally were a bit taken a back by a girl joining their team but soon realised she did not want to be treated any different to the others.

"The lads on her team are a brilliant bunch – funny, talented and really look out for one another.

"After a couple of training sessions Northwich safeguarding officer Karen Simpson introduced herself to me, informing me she dealt with all safeguarding issues and asked if Samia felt included, and was there anything the coaches should specifically know about her.

"I informed her of her triggers and how to deal with this and felt after only a few sessions the coaches really understood her and made her feel like one of the team."

In the not-too-distant future, sport rules will prevent Samia from playing in a boys team but she has developed such a love for the game that she is determined that other opportunities will open up for her.

"Samia hopes to stay at Northwich for as long as she can and retain her friendship with the lads in the future," said Jenna.

"As she gets older Samia would love Northwich to start its own girls team although she will miss playing with the lads.

"Her plans as she moves into high school are to play school rugby and if Northwich didn’t have a girls team as she reaches 12/13 she would want to continue playing rugby elsewhere.

"As a mother I’m really impressed with Northwich coaches and happy at the attitude of the rest of her team. She may be the only girl but the lads have really made her feel like one of the team."