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League's inspired student volunteers stepping up

Young people from regional Queensland through to the southeast are stepping up as volunteers while balancing the challenge of their studies.

This week is National Student Volunteer Week, and rugby league is blessed to have so many making time for their clubs, leagues and associations around their education.

In Dysart, Sienna Fahl and Charlotte Mallinson spend game days helping foster footy in the Central Highlands at Dysart Bulls Junior Rugby League Club.

The Dysart State High School pair became referees to ensure they could be on hand to facilitate junior football, while also assisting set up and pack up, manning the gate and working the canteen.

Donna Mallinson, Charlotte's mum and Dysart juniors committee member, said "without their help we couldn’t run our home games".

"All of our younger players are so excited to see them and they support to participate both as referees and just generally building relationships with the younger players. They are role models for all of our players," Mallinson said.

Charlotte said she was happy to do the jobs no one really wanted to do.

"I see like our parents run it and how hard it is for them and I just want to help them the way I can I guess," Charlotte said.

"The gate, no one wants to sit there all day, so I jump in whenever no one wants to.

"All different types of people come through and lots of people just come and sit with you when you're by yourself."

Charlotte is pushing for high marks at school so she can pursue qualifications in sports psychology.

Sienna, who is aiming to get into physiotherapy when she finishes school, said she loved seeing everyone happy after a good day at the footy ground, which couldn't happen without volunteers.

"If no one helps, no one would get to play," Sienna said.

Sienna said becoming a referee seemed daunting at first, but found online courses a breeze in the end.

"It looks like a lot, but once you start it's easy," she said.

Both girls also make the three-hour round trip to Blackwater Crushers on weekends to play in the under 15s.

Further south, rising referee Tori Wilkie takes on the rigours of a teaching degree, while also giving her time to her local association.

The 2023 BMD Premiership grand final referee and 2022 NRLW grand final and Women's State of Origin touch judge is currently acting secretary of the Gold Coast Rugby League Referees' Association, having become assistant secretary this year.

GCRLRA president Mike Gordon said Tori was also active as a coach and mentor with junior officials and was always willing to put her hand up.

"She's very proactive, always willing to help and always delivers a good quality result," Gordon said.

"She's in her final year in education, studying to be a teacher, and that's obviously a lot on her plate, but she still finds the time."

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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