Jasmine Peters had to hide the fact she played rugby league from her mum when she was 12 years old. Now, at 16, she is representing the Queensland Under 18s Girls and is happy for everyone to see her pride in the maroon jersey.
“My dad was the president of the Moranbah Rugby League Football Club and he used to play,” Peters recalled. “My brother played, but mum wouldn’t let me.”
When the family moved from Moranbah to Mackay when Peters was 12, she started playing at school.
“Behind mum’s back," she said.
“The first time I played a real game of football for a club was because I was supposed to go to soccer training and it was cancelled. I had my footy clothes with me and said to Dad ‘training is cancelled but can we go to footy?’.
“My first and last game when I was 12 that year was in the grand final. I got player of the final.”
When her mum asked why training ran so late, they confessed.
“Dad got in trouble,” Peters laughed.
The year after, she enrolled herself into a rugby league team.
“Mum still didn’t want me to play. It wasn’t round one, I think it was round two when my mum came down to watch me.
“I whacked one of the biggest girls on the opposition right in front of her. She said straight away that I could play. I remember her telling me ‘I’m more afraid of the other girls getting hurt from you than I am of you getting hurt’.”
From that day, she did not have to hide her love of the game - watching her beloved Brisbane Broncos and following her idols Billy Slater and Greg Inglis.
As the women’s game grew, so did her admiration for some of the legends of the game. The likes of Chelsea Baker, Amber Pilley, Isabelle Kelly and Karina Brown.
A product of the first ever Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) program for girls’ rugby league, the talented outside back is now in Camp Maroon with some of her idols who are in the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons team.
“It’s humanising them,” the Year 11 Mackay North State High School student said.
“You see them as these NRLW players and you just want to be like them and wonder what they are like. Being in camp with them makes me realise that they are just everyday people. They don’t think of themselves as higher than anyone else.”
The youngest in the squad at just 16, Peters has a mature approach to her football and is taking advantage of the experience to learn from her teammates, coaching staff and the women’s team.
“I look up to those women because of the way they hold themselves in a game; if they make a mistake, they just brush it off and keep going,” Peters said.
“I’ve always wanted to be more like that; I’m too much of a perfectionist and while I would never get angry at any of my teammates for a mistake, I do get angry at myself.
“I am looking at their game and comparing myself and what I need to improve on. I know that I’m young and inexperienced compared to them, and that they have had years of playing at a high level.”
When not playing or training, Peters plays the role of “biggest fan” for her younger brothers, 15-year-old Caleb and seven-year-old Jax.
“Caleb was last season playing as a forward and this year has moved to a winger,” she said with pride.
“Jax is always kicking the ball and wanting to play with us. He’s definitely going to be a star.”
The humble teen credited her family for getting to where she is.
“My dad played Broncos Under 20s and sees potential in me, and pushes me because he can see what I am capable of without me knowing what I can do,” she said.
“Mum doesn’t really like football, but likes it because we all do. To have that balance has been great.”
The impressive youngster is playing in the halves or at fullback for her club teams - playing juniors for Norths Devils in Mackay and for the women’s side at Brothers - but will line-up at left wing for the Queensland Under 18 Girls against New South Wales.
“I expect them to come out hard and they will have a very good attack but with that, I already know our team and we are really strong in attack and defence,” she said.
“We can win. It’s the only way to do it. If you come in thinking you’re not going to win, or doubting yourself, that’s the product you’re going to get.”
Match: NSW U18s Women v QLD U18s Women
Round 1 -
NSW U18s Women
QLD U18s Women
Venue: North Sydney Oval, Sydney