Australian Rugby League Commissioner Catherine Harris launched the sport’s sixth annual Women in League celebrations Thursday, saying it was vital that the game continued to recognise and reach out to women.
“There are four key areas we need to look at: the role of women playing Rugby league; the role of women who support the sport as volunteers, partners, referees and coaches; the women who work in the game; and the mothers who make the decisions to allow their sons and daughters to play or to go to matches,” Harris said.
“Women make up half the population and they are mothers to the other half! Sport is an area that has traditionally not been good at recognising women and that is why the Harvey Norman Women in League round is important.
“Rugby league is a fabulous sport with great ball skills, incredible athletes and teamwork and it is as entertaining to women as it is to men.”
The ARLC released figures at the launch showing positive signs for the increasing role of women in the sport.
- A 70% increase in the number of women in Board or executive management positions
- A 10% increase in the number of women in other management positions
- A 20% rise in female participation from 5,490 in 2011 to 6,559 in 2012
- Female club membership increasing by 20,000 in 2011 to 82,250 to account for 41% of all members
- The number of female volunteers across the country now reaches 52,000
- ARL Development staff now delivering skills and curriculum-based lessons to almost 750,000 female students across Australia and New Zealand.
The Women in League Round is round 16 this year, played from June 22-25.
Harris and the ARL’s General Manager of Community, Culture and Diversity, Trish Crews were joined at the launch by a team of women representing the many important roles women play in Rugby league, including: the first woman to control a Toyota Cup match Kasey Badger; academic advisor on the NRL’s Welfare and Education Committee Professor Catharine Lumby; the game’s first full-time development officer devoted solely to female participation, Sam Scott; and Jillaroo Jess Palmer, a member of the NSW women’s team to play Queensland in the Interstate Challenge at Penrith during the Women in League Round.
The McGrath cancer Foundation will be the 2012 charity partner.
Image: NRL Photos