COMPETITION READY: Hervey Bay Seagulls forward Lakeyta Feste runs into the clutches of a Wallaroos player.
COMPETITION READY: Hervey Bay Seagulls forward Lakeyta Feste runs into the clutches of a Wallaroos player. Contributed

The NRL blow their whistle to start new girl's competitions

RUGBY LEAGUE: For junior female rugby league players in the Wide Bay the pathway to international rugby league has just become more accessible.

The National Rugby League will introduce an under 14 and under 17 rugby league competitions for girls wanting to play in the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and Gladstone regions.

Teams from Maryborough Wallaroos, Hervey Bay Seagulls, Tanum Sands, Wallabies Gladstone and a combined Bundaberg team will take part in the inaugural competition.

NRL development officers Scott Zahra, Rod Dahl and Ian Kearton have been working with current Australian Jillaroos player Chelsea Baker since November last year to develop the competition.

The competition is designed to create opportunities for girls to participate in competitive international rugby league without having to travel great distances.

Over the previous two seasons girls from Hervey Bay Seagulls have travelled to the Sunshine Coast and Northern Brisbane on Friday nights to play competitive league.

The players would often be arriving home in the early hours of Saturday morning after games.

For NRL development officer Scott Zahra it is an exciting opportunity for rugby league in the region.

"Female participation is the fastest growing demographic in rugby league and girls from the Wide Bay can now continue to play the game they love,” Zahra said.

"Statistics show that female participation in rugby league increased by 29% in the 2018 season.”

The eight week competition will commence on June 16 with three weeks of matches scheduled before breaking for school holidays.

The season will run parallel to the boys competition for the remainder of the 2019 season.

A gala day is planned for all female teams to play before the grand finals in both age groups.

"It will be a great way to celebrate the new competitions,” Zahra said.

Zahra thanked the local clubs who have come on board to help foster female rugby league in the region.

QRL Operations Manager - Wide Bay Dave Pearce can only see benefits with the introduction of the new competitions.

"It will be great for the growth of female participation and rugby league in general,” Pearce said.

Pearce praised the Fraser Coast and Bundaberg Junior Rugby Leagues who have been working to introduce a competition.

"Congratulations to the Local Leagues who have been working together to produce competitions that keep girls playing league,” he said.

If any person is interested in participating in the new competitions they can contact Scott Zahra from the NRL on 0408 276 027 or via e-mail at: szahra@nrl.com.au