Girls have the opportunity to become trailblazers
RUGBY LEAGUE: More girls are lacing up their football boots in Australia than ever before and coach Leanne Grills is desperately hoping the trend gains traction in Gatton.
For the past month, Hawks under-14 girls' coach Grills has been running teenage girls through tackling practice and technique drills in a bid to motivate them to sign up for the season.
Grills said the Hawks Junior Rugby League Club hoped to have three girls' teams in the 2019 season, but unless they got more players the dream wouldn't be possible.
"We just need girls to come down so they have the confidence (before the season starts) and can bond with other girls,” Grills said.
"Everyone can offer something to the team; you don't have to be a certain size or speed, everyone has something to contribute and it's just enhancing those skills and combining them in the team.”
If the club achieves its goal, Hawks will have an under-12, under-14 and an under-17 team.
This season will be the first time the club has entered even one girls' team.
Hawks Junior Rugby League Club girls' coordinator Sarah Ryan said in 2019 girls have more opportunities to pursue sport than ever before.
"I lived and breathed rugby league all my life but I wasn't allowed or able to join a rugby league club,” Ryan said.
"It's really good to see that right now we have the opportunity to see people are able to play.”
Ryan also coaches rugby league at Lockyer District High School, where she works as a teacher.
She said the benefits girls got from playing the game were endless.
"It builds their self-esteem and their confidence as a person and as a female in society to be able to do something that they thought they'd never be able to get the chance,” she said.
"Seeing their faces after doing their first tackle is amazing.”
Ryan said there was a lot of talent among local girls, but recruiting them to the Hawks' teams was a matter of motivation them and spreading the word.
"We need to capture those girls in the Lockyer Valley and say we are here ready waiting for you to turn up to training,” Ryan said.
At this stage, all three teams had about half the players required to compete in the Toowoomba Rugby League competition.
Ryan urged girls to be trailblazers for females in rugby league.
If they get the numbers, the 2019 girls' teams will don a new jersey specially designed for the female players.
The design incorporates a touch of purple to the traditional black and yellow strip.
Representative players Courtney-Lee Nolan and Kyha Black have already signed up, along with Ashlea Nolan, who is hoping to play her first season.
The girls' teams already have coaches and coordinators - all the club needs now is more players.
An information night for the competition will be held at Cahill Park Thursday, March 21 at 5:30pm.