‘Young sportsperson of the year, a leader both off and on the sports field’
At just 8 years of age, Rhian Evans would be accompanied by her grandmother every Saturday and be taken to play netball. As her love for the sport flourished, so did her talent, as of just 14 years of age, Rhian had her first cap for the Wales U17s netball team. During these 3 years, Rhian’s influence in Wales was assured, captaining the Welsh side that saw victory over Northern Ireland.
Since this early milestone, Rhian has quickly progressed as one of Wales’ top sporting talents and received her first cap for Wales’ U21s at age 17 and since January this year has been called up to play for Celtic Dragons Senior Squad as the youngest ever player. Her unrelenting determination and ability ensured that Rhian was recognised as one of Swansea University’s elite sporting athletes.
This respected young sports scholar was awarded ‘Young sportsperson of the year’ at the Swansea Sports Awards 2019. “It felt like all the training, all the sacrifices were all worth it.”
“Netball certainly gives me a sense of achievement; it has helped me improve my skills and ensure I achieve my goals by applying my mindset in sport, to daily life. My sports scholarship has played a big role in my life, especially with the financial side of things. With training six times a week, I’ve used the money to purchase essential high-quality footwear and lower travel costs between training so I’m never out of pocket. The Sport Swansea Team have been very supportive as well, so I don’t ever need to worry about clashes between games and my studies.”
While only in her first year as a Sports and Exercise Undergraduate, Rhian's experience on the pitch has made an encouraging impact since beginning her studies in September. Having played every league game for our University netball club this season, Rhian has been an integral link in the early promotion of the team this year and the recent cup final victory against Plymouth.
“I’ve had so many opportunities whilst being in Uni, from starting pre-season, to later winning the cup, I’ve made so many new friends.”
Rhian highlights the importance of sport, not only in her professional development but as a necessary part of a wellbeing and sound mind. “When I get up for training early in the morning, it doesn’t feel like a chore, I’m excited about training. Everyone in that environment is just so positive and just uplifts you.” While netball is unfoundedly her ultimate sport, Rhian’s advanced capabilities stretch to various other areas as she’s received a Welsh Cap for cricket, playing in all age groups including seniors, while also received her Welsh vest (U17) for athletics (throwing discus and shot put).
While there are certainly many special moments to come, we asked Rhian what has been most memorable in her early career so far: “Playing with Celtic Dragons, we played against Manchester Thunder who are the best club in the country, so having an opportunity to step-up against them made me really proud. I managed to score a few goals as well despite losing the game but we’re a young squad so there’s plenty of time to just keep improving and I know we can.”
Rhian symbolises the result of ongoing determination and heart in all that she does. Hoping to be part of the Youth World Cup in Fiji next summer, no goal is out of reach for this already decorated young athlete.
Swansea University is very proud to play a small part in what is an undoubtedly bright future for Rhian Evans.