Women in Sport: Irish and Leinster Rugby player Linda Djougang
In this instalment of our Women in Sport series, we hear from Irish Rugby prop Linda Djougang on her journey so far, her words of wisdom for young women starting out, and the biggest misconception in women’s sport.
Born in Cameroon before moving to Ireland at the age of nine years old, Linda Djougang grew up in North Dublin, studied General nursing in Trinity College, and worked in Tallaght University Hospital.
Her sporting journey began at the age of 18, when she started playing rugby for Wanderer Women’s Rugby Club at division 4. She had the opportunity to get selected for a Leinster Trial in 2016, and made the leinster squad that same year.
In 2017, Linda moved to Old Belvedere Women’s Rugby Club in 2017, and went on to get her first Leinster cap in 2018. Debuting for Ireland in 2019 against England, this year marked the team’s first international summer tour in Japan — which made history.
Name: Linda Djougang
Profession: Rugby Player
Earliest sporting memory?
My earliest sporting memory is of my mother playing football with the other moms every Saturday, and the children watching and cheering for their mom and running with the water on the pitch. That and watching Francoise Mbango winning the gold medal at the triple jump at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
How did you become involved in your sport?
I became involved in sports in primary school. I loved sport and the competitiveness of it. I loved the variety of sports we played like GAA, soccer, volleyball and track running.
What message would you like to share with young women and girls interested in pursuing a career as an athlete?
It is important to love what you do and be your true self. Hard work, discipline and consistency will get you where you want to be, but don’t be afraid to fail — it’s also part of the journey.
Proudest moment so far…
For me, it was when my cousin told me he wanted to play rugby. Bringing him to a rugby training session and watching him run around the pitch, I was so proud.
The female athlete I admire most is…
Serena Williams, because she is the definition of a true athlete in my eyes. One thing I have learned from her is that no matter our environment, we are able to overcome anything if we don’t lose focus.
Favourite sporting memory?
Getting my first cap for Ireland will always be my favourite sporting memory.
Do you think there is still a stigma around women in sport?
I do think there is still a stigma around women in sport, but I think it is slowly dwindling with more female recognition and exposure, and now there are a lot more professional women in the sports industry.
What is the biggest barrier to driving visibility in women’s sports?
I think exposure and accessibility. For the sport to grow and get audiences, it needs to be watched, respected and most importantly, it needs to be accessible.
The biggest stigma/misconception that exists in women’s sport is…
The biggest misconception is that we can’t be as good as men. I think if we train the same and play the same, why can we not be the same?
If I wasn’t an athlete I would be…
I’m also a registered nurse.
My favourite pre-match meal is…
My favourite pre-match meal is pasta with chicken, rice pudding and fruit salad. I usually eat a lot of carbs for energy.
My pre-match playlist includes…
My game playlist usually combines a lot of Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran, Burna Boy, Dave, and Diam’s — and so much more. I love music!
My daily routine is…
I am an early-morning person. I enjoy working in the morning, as it is my most productive time. Currently, I wake up at 5:15am, I meditate for 20 minutes and then I’ll go to the gym for an hour at 6:30am. After the gym, I shower and have breakfast, then drive to work. I work from 8:30am to 6:30pm so I have both lunch and dinner at work. I usually have training or a running session straight after work in the hopes of being home for 8:00pm. Then I’ll have something small and light to eat and be asleep by 9:30 pm.
My biggest sporting goal is…
To be better than I was yesterday.
Sports brands I love (Irish or otherwise)…
I love Canterbury, Queen B Athletics’ sports bras, Npro scrum caps, Impact gumshields and Gym+Coffee.
Biggest splurge to celebrate a win…
Good food with good company.
How do you mind your mental health?
I meditate every morning and I make sure I surround myself with people that make me feel happy and loved. I communicate my feelings with loved ones and listen to their advice.
My three desert island beauty products are…
Mascara, lip oil and sun cream.
I need 8 hours of sleep a night because….
It helps with my concentration. If I don’t get enough sleep, I cannot be as productive during the day.
Confidence, to me, is…
Knowing and owning who you are.
How do you get over a bad performance?
Getting back on the pitch and playing.
Imagery via Billy Stickland.