The Penrith Panthers will transform into the Pink Panthers when Rugby League launches a celebration of the role women play in the game at CUA Stadium on Tuesday.
Penrith stars will join 40 local volunteers and fans to unveil the pink jerseys, shorts, socks, boots – and even pink footballs – that they will use in the Harvey Norman Women in League Round.
The third annual Harvey Norman Women in League Round – Round 14 of the Telstra Premiership – runs from June 12-15 and pays tribute to the tens of thousands of women who contribute to the game at all levels.
“The Harvey Norman Women in League Round is a celebration of the role women play in Rugby League and also a chance for us to say thank you to the many women who help build the foundations of our game,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.
“Women play significant and diverse roles in our game, from mums and grandmothers on the sidelines to coaches and players, volunteers, referees and support staff.
“But what they all have in common is they work tirelessly week after week to support and grow our game from the grassroots through to the Telstra Premiership level.
From Harvey Norman Managing Director and NRL Board Member Katie Page, to NRL Director, Community Relations Trish Crews, through to the development officers, mums and volunteers at the grassroots – women are having a positive influence on the game.
One such woman is Julie Luke, Executive Officer of Western Suburbs Junior Rugby League, who has been a driving force in the game in its western Sydney heartland for more than 30 years.
Having worked with tens of thousands of junior players during her career and now overseeing one of the largest nurseries for future NRL stars, Luke has more than 14 clubs and 3000 players under her care.
“Rugby League meant so much to my boys growing up. Now that they have left home I am no longer an empty nester because I have my Rugby League family. The Women in League Round makes the ladies of Rugby League feel very special,” she said.
As part of the Harvey Norman Women in League Round, all NRL clubs will acknowledge and celebrate the role of women in the game with initiatives including:
- The Panthers will wear pink on-field kit while the Dragons’ traditional red V will go pink – the clubs will auction these jerseys off for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Joanne MacKay Breast Cancer Foundation respectively;
- Pink match balls in some games;
- The pink footballs will be signed by each team and auctioned off by the NRL, with all funds raised going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation; and
- The video referee’s board will feature pink LED themed images.
The NRL and Harvey Norman will also honour women in the game in the popular Harvey Norman Women in League functions throughout June in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Central Coast.
An initiative of the Harvey Norman Managing Director and NRL Board Member Katie Page, the Harvey Norman Women in League events recognise more than 700 women who are an integral part of Rugby League at a grassroots level.
The NRL and Harvey Norman are also running the Women in League Competition. Grassroots clubs from across the country are being encouraged to send in their photographs of how they are celebrating the Women in League Round. The winning entrant will receive a $1000 gift card from Harvey Norman.
The annual One Community Awards in November will also pay tribute to the female volunteers who work tirelessly at the grassroots of the game with awards including the Toyota National Volunteer of the Year and the Harvey Norman Women in League achievement awards, as well as five other community awards.
Women in League Launch details are as follows:
Who: Penrith Panthers, fans and volunteers
What: Round 14 Women in League Launch
When: 12pm, Tuesday, May 26
Where: CUA Stadium, Western Grandstand