There is a huge day of rugby league action planned on the Sunshine Coast this Sunday, with junior teams rounding off their season on grand final day.
There will be a number of high-quality and intriguing contests held throughout the day being staged at the Caloundra Junior Rugby League grounds; with girls and boys in the under 13 to under 18 divisions playing for their chance to claim the end-of-season silverware.
More games will also be played across the weekend from Friday night and Saturday in the lead-up to the grand final day between the top of the table teams.
One match up in particular which has rugby league fans excited is the under 16 girls grand final between Caboolture (main image) and the combined Kawana / Beerwah sides.
Both clubs have been building their player base in recent seasons; with Caboolture placing a particular focus on this since 2015.
Someone who has been involved with both clubs and has gone on achieve at the highest levels of the game is Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons representative Annette Brander.
Brander played for Caboolture as a teen and then later ran out for the Beerwah women's team and has a schoolgirls carnival in the region named in her honour.
With Sunshine Coast Stadium hosting the women’s State of Origin game later next month, Brander will be aiming to press her claims for selection in the Queensland squad during her games with the Brisbane Broncos in the NRLW.
“I played my first club season at 17 for Caboolture Snakes in the under 18s team, which I am fairly sure was the first 18s girls team for Caboolture," Brander said.
“Before that, I could only play in school comps. Participation was so low that under 18s was the only junior footy available to girls and we had to play the same team each week (Beerwah) because there wasn’t enough girls playing league to form any other teams.
"But now, there are four teams in the under 16s Sunshine Coast comp, and more in the younger age groups, which shows how far it’s come in the last 10 years.
“I ended up playing in the women’s that same year as a 17-year-old for some more competition as well and there was only one club on the Sunny Coast, the Sunshine Coast Sirens.
“We struggled every week to find numbers, I even ended up having to wrangle in different friends from school and even recruited co-workers from Maccas, just so we could have numbers each weekend.
“In more recent times, Sunshine Coast had formed their own women's competition with about five or six teams, which I think it awesome both for the growth of the game and for girls growing up on the Sunshine Coast.
"It is so much more convenient for girls who was to give footy a go and there is now an actual pathway for them.”
Sunshine Coast administrative assistant Maree Thompson has followed progress of the Caboolture and Kawana / Beerwah sides during the regular season and selected a handful of players from both sides to keep an eye out for in the final.
“Players to watch for Caboolture are Grace Giampino – she will fit right into a team at the state level competition when she is old enough and Vera Bannington and Bianca Dioth.
"Also, Jaydah Tofae, who is 15, has one more year in the under 16 competition, but she always shines in a game,” Thompson said.
“For Kawana / Beerwah, some key players are Shannyn Harms and Jayde Herdegen.
“Jayde is a very handy halfback – I can see her fitting right in at state level just like Grace when she is old enough as well.”
To further highlight the strength of the girls game between the two clubs, the Under 14 game at 10.20am will also be played out between the same two clubs.
The Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League sponsor day and grand final celebration will kick off with the first game between Kawana Dolphins and Maroochydore Green in the under 13 division 1 boys starting at 9am on Field 2; while the under 14 division 1 teams Maroochydore Green and Noosa Pirates will face off at 9.20am on Field 1.
See the full fixtures and results here via the Play Rugby League website.