Jump to main content
Fi Toner: “We’re constantly challenging what is the status quo”

Fi Toner of Leeds Rhinos during the Vitality Super League match between Celtic Dragons and Leeds Rhinos at Studio 001, Wakefield, England on 12th January 2021.

Dual-athlete, Northern Ireland international, Leeds Rhinos Netball co-captain, Chartered Accountant; Fionnuala Toner is no stranger to success.

Toner manages to excel in multiple areas of her life whether that be in different sports or off the court all together. From the outside, this juggling act might even appear easy but maintaining prosperity across the board is some challenge.

The 30-year-old has risen to this challenge and has been able to put her mark on a range of different environments, always challenging and always looking to be better.

It is these attributes that make her an ideal co-captain at Rhinos but also an admired accountant at Deloitte in Dublin for the last six years. She is now a manager in the Audit and Financial Services Department having qualified in 2016.

“I studied accountancy as an undergrad at Queen’s University in Belfast before doing my Masters in Ulster, which gave me exemptions for a professional exam, and I started with Deloitte in 2014,” she said.

“I went to Dublin and started with them on a three-year training contract which is the norm in the industry. I then became a fully Chartered Accountant in 2016 and have stayed with Deloitte since then.

“During the week it’s a combination of managing clients and managing internal teams. It’s a full-time job which I obviously have to balance with netball and my personal life.”

Toner has been a part of the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) for just as long as she has worked in Dublin, joining Team Northumbria in 2014 before representing London Pulse and Team Bath Netball.

She now resides with Rhinos in Yorkshire. Dan Ryan’s outfit are enjoying their debut season in the VNSL and, as co-captain alongside Jade Clarke, Toner has been a major part of their preparations.

Balancing her duties for Rhinos and her career can be a challenge but pursuing fulfilment in both is a must for someone as driven as Toner.

“It’s all obviously juggled around Leeds Rhinos training. We train four out of the five weekdays so, on those days, I’m just juggling. If we train in the morning with Leeds, I just start my workday at 1pm and it might go a little bit later depending on the day and the time of the year,” she said.

“Deloitte have been really supportive of the netball and giving me the ability to work remotely. It can be challenging at times and very long days between work and training but I wouldn’t change it. To do both as long as I have has been a huge accomplishment for myself and I think I’d struggle if I was just doing one or the other.

“Coming away from training and going back to audit is a huge shift but it really gets you to switch off from netball and then vice versa. When I go into training, I forget about work and I’m just there for netball.”

Toner is one of many netballers who opt to balance a career with the sport they love but rarely do they do so at such a high level.

As well as her VNSL commitments, she has been to two Netball World Cups and two Commonwealth Games with Northern Ireland. She also played basketball in the Irish Superleague until 2017.

The Lisburn-born athlete believes that it is important to aim high in your career and says that she can be a role model for those who believe they might have to pick one or the other.

“I think it’s really important that clubs and England Netball support players which have that career because netball as a player is not going to last forever. To have that balance, for it to be supported as a positive thing because you want to do both can only be a good thing.

“It’s great just to show that it can be done. To have that career and to be able to flip between one or the other is such a relief. For young girls coming through, give your all to netball but work on your education and your career. It’s so important to have those role models which show that.

“I’m at all the trainings that other players are and all the matches that they’re at but still have a full-time job. I think it surprises some of them sometimes whenever I have to duck out for a board meeting call or just kind of go back to work.”

Toner, who has been playing netball since she was 11, has lived in Leeds since October but would previously travel between England and Dublin for work.

Despite suffering an injury in the second game of the season, she has clearly settled well in Leeds based on her early performances.

It has been easy to see why she has started at her three previous VNSL sides. In that time, she has seen both the league and the accounting industry change.

“I think the league has grown massively. To even look back to 2014 and where the league is at now, it’s probably not even comparable. The level of competition has definitely grown and now the league has expanded. It’s great to see and it really shows the level of interest,” she said.

“In accounting, I would also say it’s changed in terms of representation. I would say it’s mixed. Our partner group would be male dominated but there are females partners and progression is continually encouraged.

“Our associate group is usually close to 50/50. Yes, there is definitely times where I’ll be the only female on a call but I don’t find it discouraging because we are all given equal support and our development is a priority regardless of gender.“

On International Women’s Day (8 March 2021), Toner believes it’s important to challenge what has been accepted as normal and to set an example for the next generation of young women.

“For younger girls to see those female athletes succeed in both career and netball is hugely important so they can strive to see what they can achieve both academically and on the netball court.

“We have more players than ever probably that are juggling both, that are not just playing netball. Obviously, there are a couple of mothers now in the league as well, so adding that into the mix which is hugely inspiring for the rest of the players in the league.

It’s very important to be able to not just go with the status quo. The media exposure and funding that female sports get is not at the level of male sports. So, we have to keep pushing and striving which is why it’s great to see what England Netball have put together this year.”

International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March 2021 with the campaign theme of #ChooseToChallenge. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

Previous Story Nia Jones: “There are no easy games in the Vitality Netball Superleague”
Next Story Felisitus Kwangwa: “For centuries women have never been in the spotlight but things are changing”

More News

Catherine Tuivaiti of Severn Stars.
8th Aug 2022

The five biggest transfers from the 2022 Signing Window

Reading: 5 mins
Fi Toner: “We’re constantly challenging what is the status quo”
7th Aug 2022

Commonwealth Games: Legacy Netball

Reading: 4 mins
Eboni Usoro-Brown of Team Bath Netball.
7th Aug 2022

Eboni Usoro-Brown retires from netball

Reading: 3 mins
Fi Toner: “We’re constantly challenging what is the status quo”
6th Aug 2022

Commonwealth Games: Final day set with England battling for bronze

Reading: 3 mins
Fi Toner: “We’re constantly challenging what is the status quo”
5th Aug 2022

Commonwealth Games: Classification closes with some top performances

Reading: 4 mins

Google Ad – MPU – Right Column