There has been much cause for celebration in the NRL this year and here, at Ladies who League, we continued the celebrations yesterday as the NRL announced that Suzanne Young has been appointed as the new Chief Operating Officer at the NRL.
What a magnificent appointment by the NRL. Someone with Suzanne’s tremendous experience and commitment to sport over a sustained period is commendable. In a year which has seen the NRL continue to talk about working towards good governance, professionalism and ensuring the viability of the game for the future, Suzanne is in a position to be able to implement real change and we are looking forward to seeing what she can do.
Suzanne’s has a wealth of professional experience. Her career has seen her take prominent roles at QANTAS, the Commonwealth Bank and Leighton Holdings as well as having made strong contributions to indigenous education and the not for profit sector both here in Australia and overseas.
Her sporting background has seen her play a significant role in surf lifesaving as a coach, administrator and director. Suzanne’s commitment to the sport was recognised in 1995-96 where she was awarded the Australian Surf Life Saver of the Year.
It has been a year that we look back fondly at the NRL and what it has managed to achieve. Significant achievements include Raelene Castle celebrating 1 year as CEO of the Bulldogs, the appointment of Corene Strauss as Men of League CEO, the appointment of Rebecca Frizelle as the Titans Board Chair, the appointment of Marina Go as a non-executive chair at the Wests Tigers and Linda Burney as the ARL Indigenous Council Chair.
The Jillaroos won the Women’s Rugby League World Cup for the first time, we won the Trans-Tasman series in all three divisions this year and Kasey Badger and Belinda Sleeman have become the first female referees to be included in the full-time elite match officials squad with Belinda appearing on the touch line in the NRL this year.
Dave Smith has also committed to diversity – particularly at a board level. For this, we applaud him.
Whilst the NRL has had much to celebrate, we do not pretend that the code is perfect. It is far from so. In the last year alone, we have had to deal with the fall out of Todd Carney, Paul Gallen’s fall from grace on social media, the continuing impact of the ASADA investigations and more recently, the media coverage of Kirisome Auva’a assault on his girlfriend.
The NRL makes mistakes – all sporting codes do. In the past year however, we have seen the code take a stronger approach in respect to player behaviour. We have seen the code continue to work toward good governance and we have seen the code recognise the importance of diversity. The NRL needs to continue to dream big and work constantly toward improvement, so that no longer is having a woman on each board a dream – it becomes a reality.
In the media, Suzanne has been quoted as saying ‘sport is part of my DNA’. As a young female, passionate about sport, this quote delights me. This passion for sport will hopefully translate into a tremendous passion for the sport that I love and ensuring that the NRL continues to go from strength to strength. Hopefully Suzanne continues to help reform the NRL and bring about change, whilst being a positive role model for women who are interested in taking their commitment and participation in the sport to the next level.
Welcome to the administration of our sport, Suzanne.
Ladies who League