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Community Corner: Female footy comes to the forefront in South East

The Queensland Rugby League South East region is about to witness an explosion of female footy.

And it all kicked off this week, in what is coincidentally QRL’s Harvey Norman Women in League Round.

It’s already an exciting time of year, with finals footy on our doorstep, but the focus we have as a region on our girls and women over the next two weeks makes it extra special.

It all started on Tuesday when Rugby League Ipswich launched their Under 12 Girls program.

This is an introductory program which allows us to give local girls the opportunity to try the game.

Utilising the Tackle Ready program, it helps girls understand how to tackle and be tackled safely and also learn the skills of the game to become confident and competent players.

Often we find that not knowing how to tackle or be tackled, or not having some of those basic skills, can be one of the biggest barriers in attracting new faces to the game.

But we really hope that with this program – and some quality coaching – we can overcome this.

This program is very similar to the Karina Brown Challenge that was played on the Gold Coast earlier this year.

We as a region learnt a lot from the Challenge and the way it was focused on the empowerment of players, officials, coaches and more.

The Gold Coast were very successful with their participation rates and we’re hoping to see the same at Ipswich.

The intention of the Under 12 Girls is to not only teach as many players as possible what they need to know in rugby league, but to bring them back next year and the year after, and provide more numbers from Ipswich into the South East Queensland competitions that currently exist.

And that competition actually wraps up for 2022 this weekend in a huge celebration of junior female footy in our area.

All the junior female grand finals will be played at Valleys Diehards this Saturday, August 13, from under 14s up to under 18s.

These players have worked so hard throughout the season to get their teams to this place, to this moment, and it just shows what dedication and hard work can bring you.

To also make the grand final with a bunch of your teammates is truly what sport is all about – comradery, team efforts, and playing for each other.

Not to mention, playing for their coaches, managers, mums and dads, volunteers and more.

It takes more than just the players on the field to produce a team into finals. It takes a whole bunch of people to get it done and we as a game are grateful for them doing that.

Action from the 2020 junior girls' grand finals.
Action from the 2020 junior girls' grand finals.

Overall, it’s a pretty exciting opportunity for the girls to play on this stage.

This weekend will also be Gold Coast league and club coordinator Linda Saunders' last in junior female competitions.

I would like to personally thank her for the past two years as the lead of this area - she has been innovative and vastly improved the administration of these divisions, focusing on clear and open communication.

Linda has done this role on top of her normal league and club duties on the Gold Coast and delivered it with great passion.

The junior female community is richer for having had Linda be part of our team.

Linda will move on to a state operations role with the QRL and I am sure she won’t be a stranger. We wish her all the best.

2021 Holcim Cup premiers, Runaway Bay.
2021 Holcim Cup premiers, Runaway Bay.

Next weekend on Saturday, August 20, the women’s teams of our South East competitions will then step up to play in their grand finals at Mustangs Brothers’ grounds at Chambers Flat.

Goodna are already through to the deciding match of the Holcim Cup – our top division in community women’s footy – and Valleys and Runaway Bay will this weekend play off for that second coveted spot.

Also on that day, the South East will hold its Talent ID day for the under 17s age group at QSAC.

This day plays a major part in selecting our Under 17 City team, which will go on to play Queensland Country on the Hostplus Cup grand final day next month.

We expect to see about 80 girls next Saturday – selected from those eligible within the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition and those scouted from our junior girls’ competitions – who will go through training, skills testing and games.

Three squads will then be selected from this ID day and they will hold training sessions throughout August and September before playing in a carnival in early September, which will help with those final selections for the City side.

It’s a great opportunity for our young up-and-comers to get specialist training in that process and build competence and confidence, and maybe even go on to that representative stage.

If they don’t get that opportunity with City, they should still view the experience as a huge positive.

We will have more girls with experience, with the necessary skills, and we can hopefully retain them in our sport and show that talent once more next year.

And who knows what opportunities may arise in 2023?

This pathway is a great stepping stone and just continues to build upon the strength of our female game in the South East corner.

Good luck to all over the coming weeks.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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