'Feel comfortable to speak up': Levi Doing it for Dolly in Toulouse

Thu, May 11, 2023, 11:15 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
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Sevens star Teagan Levi will have more than a Toulouse title on her mind as the Aussies look to finish the World Series on a strong note.

Levi is an ambassador for the Dollys Dream Australia foundation alongside sister Maddi, with the first day of action coinciding with 'Do it for Dolly Day' on May 12.

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The goal of the campaign is to break the silence around bullying and help young people, parents, and carers find the courage to speak out, something which the 19-year-old hasn't been afraid to do.

Levi was coming through her final year of school as a two-code star when she was abused by an horrific anonymous phone call.

"I got a call from a no caller ID saying that I was fat, that I was too muscly to be a girl and that I should go kill myself," Levi said in a video for the foundation.

"It's pretty hard. I called Maddi crying being like 'these girls' and she said to me 'don't worry about it, they're just jealous and there's obviously something happening in their life that they have to put someone else down.'

"Getting that good support network, having my sister and my parents by my side was really helpful in that situation."

Teagan conveys a myriad of personalities across her different walks of life.

On the field, she sets the tempo with her brutal style of play whilst serving as one of the 'hype up' girls with her infectious attitude and energetic nature whether that's in the locker room or on social media off it.

However, it’s when she’s talking about her past and why Dolly means so much that you see strength well beyond her years shine through.

“Hopefully my video spreads awareness for Dolly and just anyone to speak up,” Levi said to Rugby.com.au.

“Even if your voice shakes, speak up and don’t hide behind the fact there’s people behind and always put yourself in the position to feel comfortable to speak up.

“I’ve obviously been through a lot when I was growing up so for Dolly to see that happen to her, it’s such a big thing for me and my sister to be a part of and be ambassadors for them.

“I want people to realise that you can speak up and be yourself, people will like you for you so you don’t have to change for anyone.”

Levi's influence grows on and off the field, recently named to the Hong Kong Dream Team after a breakout tournament.

The former top ten AFL draft pick feels the confidence growing game by game as she starts to build combinations in the youthful squad.

“I’ve been working really hard training almost six days a week to get the reward so to get nominated and then named in the Dream Team just shows it’s paying off," Levi believes.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it without the girls beside me, we've all come together and are building such a strong connection and we’re on the way up.

“I feel definitely more comfortable in the team now. The girls have been working on those combinations. 12 months ago, I probably wouldn’t have done that kick or chase or gone for that hole, I would’ve passed the ball off but I now definitely feel more comfortable to back myself a little.”

The attention turns to Toulouse for the final event of a hectic 18-month calendar that included a Commonwealth Games, Sevens World Cup and two Sevens Series.

It’s fitting they face ‘Les Bleus’ in the group stages, with landmarks across the country lit up blue to celebrate Dolly's Day.

France knocked out the Australians in the quarter-finals in Sydney, with the Aussies handed a perfect chance to gain some revenge.

They have made a pair of finals since, going down to New Zealand, who only need a quarter-final appearance to lock up the World Series crown.

Levi stressed the importance of respecting the ball if they wish to match it with the Black Ferns and the rest of the competition.

“Obviously it's not what we wanted but you only learn from your losses and I think our team is working really hard for Toulouse," she added.

“Unfortunately we’re not getting what we want when last year everything seemed to fall our way but Toulouse is a benchmark tournament so we’re working really hard and hoping for the Olympics we’re ready to go to give the Kiwis a good shot.

“We’re just not holding onto the ball. We’re defending really well but then when we get the ball, we’re not respecting it and putting our defence under pressure.

“We’re in France, the site of the Olympics, we have France in our pool so they’ll be difficult at home. We’re up for the challenge so hopefully our combinations come together.”


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