A Dewsbury teenager has proved that deafness is no barrier to sporting success after making her rugby debut for Yorkshire.
Jodie Ounsley, 15, has also overcome a chronic knee condition to become the Sandal RUFC girls’ team’s top try-scorer less than a year after taking up the sport.
Jodie, from Thornhill, had a cochlear implant as a child and is eligible to join England’s deaf squad, who have invited her to train with them.
The Shelley College pupil impressed with a spectacular debut for Yorkshire’s under 15 girls in their 59-10 victory over Leicestershire last Sunday, bagging two tries. The wing/centre is known for her explosive running, clinical finishing and solid defence.
Jodie, who played her first ever match last October, has to wear a special headguard to protect her ears, and is relishing the chance to excel after fearing she would never be able to play sport competitively.
“It’s a fantastic sport for girls and I’m having a brilliant time. I’ve made loads of new friends and am fitter than I’ve ever been. Rugby is tough and I’m covered in bruises but it’s worth it!” she said.
“There are a few communication issues with my team-mates and coaches but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome. Deafness isn’t something that should prevent anyone from realising their dreams.”
Jodie has also won four world titles in coal-carrying, five sprint medals at the Deaf Athletics Championship and a gold at the British Open jui jitsui event.