In Greek mythology the raven was a messenger bird of the god Apollo and often associated with bad luck. For Native Americans the bird symbolised change and transformation.
The Canada Ravens women’s rugby league team appear to relate more to the latter in terms of symbolism.
The Ravens have been thrust into the limelight of the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in Australia as a new entrant in the international competition dominated by Australia, France, England and New Zealand, who all compete on a regular basis.
The six-team tournament showcasing the world’s best players took place 16 November and 2 December in Sydney and Brisbane.
It was the fifth time the women’s tournament has occurred after the inaugural World Cup was held in 2000 in the United Kingdom.
The teams competing in this prestigious event were Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The Ravens, who were chosen from rugby union talent in Canada, have fought hard in matches against tough and more experienced opponents such as the 2013 World Champion Australian Jillaroos and world champions Kiwi Ferns.
Despite conceding losses to battle-hardened oppositions, the Ravens have shown great promise and potential.
A highlight was a historic first ever World Cup 22-8 win over Papua New Guinea. It was a major achievement and cause for celebration, the win was enough for the Canada Ravens to gain a semifinal spot against Australia.
One of the players fortunate to be picked for the trip to Australia was fullback and sharpshooting goalkicker Irene Patrinos.
Patrinos, whose family hails from the Peloponnese region in Greece, said she was “ecstatic” about being selected for the tournament.
Neos Kosmos decided to find out more about what it is like for a young Greek Canadian to play rugby league for her country.
Tell me about your life in Canada, where you live, what you do?
I live in Etobicoke (District of Toronto), but I am originally from Mississauga (a city that neighbours Toronto on Lake Ontario). I’m currently working as a receptionist/administrative support and come the new year I will start studying for my lSATS (International Students Admissions Test).
What are your impressions of Australia?
I love Australia! I would definitely move here if it wasn’t so far from Canada. The beaches, the weather, and the people are great!
How and why did you start playing rugby league?
My friend and teammate Natasha Smith told me about the team and that it was very new and a really cool experience to try a new kind of rugby. A few weeks before that I actually went to my first Toronto Wolfpack game and thought it was awesome so I wanted to give it a try.
Where is the game at in Canada?
Rugby league in Canada is very new. With the Wolfpack [the first transatlantic men’s rugby league club] coming to Toronto it definitely has gotten people more interested but honestly my first time even hearing about it was this summer.
What did you learn from your games against Australia and New Zealand?
We learned how to be more passive on defence and to make sure we get numbers in the tackles to slow down the ball. That really helped us to come out with a win against Papua New Guinea. We’re just taking one game at a time and taking in everything we learn from each game and using it for the next. We’re so new that no-one expects anything from us which is kind of exciting.
According to the 2011 Canadian census there are over 130,000 people with Greek ancestry living in the province of Ontario. What does your heritage mean to you?
It means the world to me. My family and I are passionate about where we come from we definitely try and keep the traditions that have been passed down by my grandparents alive.
We go to a Greek church in keeping with Greek traditions like Easter and Christmas. We eat Greek traditional foods and visit Greek festivals.
I went to Greek school as a child and learned how to Greek dance and the language, although I have been using Rosetta Stone [website] to get better with speaking Greek.
In 2013 I visited where my parents are from as well as Paros, Santorini, Mykonos, and Athens. It was such an unbelievable trip, I can’t wait to go back.
The Greek community is strong here in Australia. Have you met many people of Greek heritage since you have been in the country?
Funnily enough, I was drug tested as part of the World Cup and my chaperone was Greek. Other then that I didn’t but it would be awesome to meet more Greek people.