Paramedic Mei-Lin jump-starts heart of bush footy

Quite literally, Mei-Lin Dean is driving female participation in her community.

The paramedic recently won the QRL's NRL Community's Women in League Achievement Award which was presented at the QRL Gala Awards night.

This recognition was in part due to the 350-kilometre round trip journey she makes almost weekly to give girls in the region a chance to play rugby league.

Dean is the girls coordinator for the South Burnett Rugby League.

With limited opportunity for players to participate in their own region, the South Burnett has joined forces with Rugby League Sunshine Coast to allow players to participate in the Under 14 and 16 Girls and Open Women's competitions.

The South Burnett Rugby League is represented by the diverse communities of Nanango, Kingaroy, Wondai, Murgon and Cherbourg.

Burnett QRL Operations Manager Lisa Anderson said it was Mei-Lin's resilience and commitment to female participation that brought these communities together.

"She tackles problems head on and always respects the local traditions of the different communities that make up our region," Anderson said.

"By uniting the diverse cultures within the communities, Mei-Lin has been able to create successful team environments."

Proof of Dean's achievement is in the numbers.

This season, there has been a 26% increase in female participation within the South Burnett.

This includes the first open female team to represent the region.

Regular participation has also allowed a greater opportunity for local players to be part of the female representative pathway.

Recently, four Under 16 girls from the region were selected to play for the Central Crows at the State Junior Championships in Mackay.

"There is no doubt that without Mei-Lin's contribution, we would have a limited number of females playing in the region," Anderson added.

The junior girls have particularly benefited from her dedication.

Lisa AndersonBurnett QRL Operations Manager

"With a Friday night competition on the Sunshine Coast, it is Mei-Lin that organises school pick-ups as the team's head straight to the coast to ensure they don't miss kick-off."

*This story was written by QRL Central Region Manager Glenn Ottaway