Selfless Women in League Pathways mentor Annette Busch is driven by love of the game

As much as Annette Busch is humbled by being one of the thousands of people thanked by NRL as part of the annual Women in League round, the mother of three hopes it becomes redundant.

The long-serving secretary of the Valentine Eleebana JRLFC said she was thrilled to be nominated for the Women in League Pathways Mentoring Program where she linked up with former Raiders legend Alan Tongue.

Having started as an active parent with the Valley Dragons in Canberra, Busch's three sons have all benefited from playing the game.

However, she is more determined than ever to see the sport be the vehicle for real societal change after witnessing Tongue's work with the Voice against Violence program.

"He's an amazing man with what he's doing with this Voice against Violence workshop," Busch said.

"It's just amazing to see the kids get it. It's hard to explain ... you can see the kids starting to understand where he was coming from.

"At 16 and 17 years old, you can see them thinking 'yeah I have done that or yeah I have said that' and you could see it clicking into place, and it was the same with the adults.

"At the end of the session you could hear them saying 'we have to rethink about how we talk because it's maybe degrading men or women.

Alan Tongue and Annette Busch.
Alan Tongue and Annette Busch. ©NRL Photos

"If I can help one child or one adult with something so simple then I've achieved my goal."

Busch said the increasing involvement of females in the game including the advent of the women's competition, could mean it's just accepted as the norm.

"Further down the track it would be great if we didn't have to have a round that made us aware of there are women in league," she said.

"But for the moment it's great to have that thank you.

"When I got to spend some time with Alan, he would just say to me 'thank you for everything you do for this great game' and if it's only that one day you feel you've achieved a lot and I've helped kids and parents get into a great sport, then you've got take it and run with it and accept it."

Tongue has continued to be one of the most respected people in the game, with his tireless work as a one-community ambassador taking him from clubs to boardrooms across the country.

He hoped the work of the Voice against Violence program would help continue to stimulate generational changes of attitudes towards women, using rugby league as the vehicle through which the messages are passed.

"We really recognised that the 15 to 18-year-old bracket a is really important area in young men's lives," Tongue said.

"Often it's the start of their first serious relationship but also what I thought was really important is around 18 they transition from junior football to senior football.

"I believe that's a really important reasonability not only on the field but also off the field, that culture you want to create inside your football club but also in your community.

"I think about the language used in the football clubs I have been around my whole life but it's not just rugby league but society as well.

"How important we understand the words and actions we use and the culture we're creating around equal opportunities for men and women because it's an important part of stopping this violence against women.""