Women in League hits Rockhampton

Rugby League’s One Community ambassadors Wendell Sailor, David Peachey and Hazem El Masri joined 160 women in Rockhampton last night, kicking off a series of events to thank some of the 40,000 women involved in Rugby League, in the lead up to the NRL’s annual Harvey Norman Women in League Round from June 25-28 (Round 16). <br><br> Travelling from across Central Queensland and from up to five hours away, the women packed into a pink Rockhampton Leagues Club to celebrate their roles as volunteers, employees and officials alongside the three One Community ambassadors, NRL Director of Community Relations, Trish Crews and Harvey Norman Managing Director and NRL Board member Katie Page – the brainchild behind Harvey Norman Women in League. <br><br> Among the guests were Pat Booker – a fan for more than 50 years who travelled from Blackwater, nearly two hours away, where she serves as the Secretary across 10 clubs and referees associations in the Central West and Central Highlands, as well as working four-days a week; and Shirley Wilkinson – who has been involved with the Norths club since 1970 and whose husband Ron was the chairman of CQ Rugby League and a Board member of the QRL for many years. <br><br> After official welcomes from Trish Crews and Katie Page, guests heard from a panel comprising Sailor, Peachey, El Masri and special guest, Central Queensland local and Australian women’s Rugby League team member, Tegan Rolfe, about the women who inspired and influenced their careers and the invaluable commitment of women in the game. <br><br> At just 21 years old, Rolfe only started playing Rugby League on a regular basis two years ago and each week makes a six-hour round trip to Mackay to play with the Mackay Magpies. Her skill on the field, her passion for the game and her determination quickly earned Rolfe a place in the Jillaroos side which travelled to New Zealand for the 2008 Women’s Rugby League World Cup. <br><br> “I feel very privileged to be here tonight to celebrate the contribution each and every one of you makes to our great game,” Ms Page said at the event. <br><br> <img src="http://www.rugbyleague.com.au/wil_sidepromo.jpg" align="right">“When you think Women in League, you typically think of the 40,000 female volunteers who make the game of Rugby League a community, but our involvement in the game extends far and wide. 280,000 girls were involved in Rugby League development programs in 2009 and 40% of fans cheering on our players are women. <br><br> “Tonight is about you and the chance for you to sit back and celebrate the game that you make possible. Thank you.” <br><br> Last night’s dinner in Rockhampton was the first of four events ahead of the annual Harvey Norman Women in League Round (June 25-28, Round 16), with more than 500 women from across the game attending similar events in Dubbo (June 17), Sydney (June 23), and Auckland (June 30) in the coming weeks. <br><br> The Sydney Women in League event will also feature the announcement of the game’s second annual Women in League Favourite Son Award, which acknowledges a player who acts as a true role model to younger players, and whose off-field characteristics embody the true values of the Rugby League community. <br><br> The inaugural award was won by Hazem El Masri last year, with this year’s nominees comprising Andrew Ryan (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Darren Lockyer (Brisbane Broncos), Nathan Hindmarsh (Parramatta Eels), Alan Tongue (Canberra Raiders), Trent Barrett (Cronulla Sharks), Preston Campbell (Gold Coast Titans), Petero Civoniceva (Penrith Panthers), Braith Anasta (Sydney Roosters). <br><br> The Harvey Norman Women in League Round will see NRL and grass-roots teams across the game transform themselves through pink jerseys, shorts, socks and boots, pink match balls, Women in League tattoos, and pink scarves in support of Women in League charity partner, the McGrath Foundation, who, throughout June, are challenging 10,000 Australian men and women to become ‘breast aware’. <b><a href="http://www.rloc.com.au/default.aspx?s=breast-aware" target="_blank">Register now</a></b> <br><br> Rugby League fans will also be able to celebrate the Harvey Norman Women in League Round, through a special $40 Family Ticket offer for seven of the eight matches (excludes Rabbitohs v Storm in Perth). <b><a href="http://www.nrl.com/tickets">Click to find out more </a></b>