Rugby league will pay tribute to the thousands of female volunteers, staff, members, players, referees and coaches of the game this month as part of celebrations for the 2013 Harvey Norman Women in League Round, which will play on the weekend on May 17.
The game has much to celebrate with women’s interest and involvement at a high across Australia, following a 20 per cent increase in female registrations in 2012 (5,801 in 2012; 4,814 in 2011), and a 100 per cent increase in registered female coaches (172 in 2012; 86 in 2011).
The 2013 registrations are still being calculated, but early indications show female participation is continuing to increase nationally, while coaching numbers have already risen 50 per cent to 263.
Now in its seventh year, the Harvey Norman Women in League Round recognises and celebrates the countless hours female volunteers, players, members and staff devote to supporting the game. ‘The contribution women make to the game continues to strengthen each year,’ said Trish Crews, NRL general manager of community, culture and diversity. ‘This year is particularly exciting with our Jillaroos squad heading to the UK in July to participate in Rugby League’s 2013 Festival of the World Cups, making it the fourth World Cup in which women have been represented.’
The 2013 Women in League Round will see the Telstra Premiership competition turn pink with club activities and game-day celebrations, including the Cowboys, Panthers, Sharks, Dragons, Bulldogs and Warriors wearing pink playing kits.
Last week’s Darwin dinner, hosted by rugby league ambassadors Alan Tongue, David Peachey, Petero Civoniceva and Steve Turner, was the first of four official Women in League events, followed by functions in Canberra on May 7, Byron Bay on May 9 and Sydney on May 14.
More than 600 women from across the game will be hosted over the four events, with attendees including Nathan Hindmarsh, Mario Fenech, Hazem El Masri, and Raiders stars Terry Campese and Jarrod Croker, in addition to Civoniceva, Peachey and Tongue.
Prior to each event, 10 local women will be selected to take part in a Women in League Leadership Forum; these are designed to inspire women and outline pathways to pursue more senior roles in the game.
Female rugby league fans are also encouraged to vote for the Harvey Norman Favourite Son Award via www.nrl.com/favouriteson, with the following players announced as finalists: Scott Prince (Broncos), Dene Halatau (Bulldogs), Dallas Johnson (Cowboys), Ben Creagh (Dragons), Danny Buderus (Knights), Roy Asotasi (Rabbitohs), Anthony Minichiello (Roosters), Bryan Norrie (Storm) and Simon Mannering (Warriors).
Voting will close on Thursday, May 9, with the winner announced at the Sydney Harvey Norman Women in League Lunch on Tuesday, May 14.
For the fourth year, Harvey Norman Women in League’s charity partner is the McGrath Foundation, with Round activities, such as the sale of pink socks and other merchandise, all helping to raise funds to provide breast care nurses. Other charities will also benefit from club activities.