Volunteers toil away to keep grassroots footy growing despite pandemic

This article was first written for and published by NRL.com

It’s hard enough running a grassroots footy club at the best of times but when there’s a pandemic that means volunteers need to ensure biosecurity rules are followed, it becomes a monumental task.

When the NSWRL announced grassroots footy would return in July, the news was met with plenty of joy from players across the country.

Let us Never Take Live Sport For Granted Again

This article was written by Inaugural Parramatta Eels Members Councillor and Sydney FC member, Melissa Muscat.

It’s so good to be back. As an avid sport fan, four whole months is a torment to be denied access watching your favourite sporting teams play live, so thankfully Friday night saw the return of almost 7000 Parramatta Eels members to Bankwest stadium to cheer on the team in person once again. What a welcome feeling it was. For some, sport is more than just a team to follow. It’s a social connection, an identity, a way of life, and as the last few months have proven, the saying, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, rang very true. More importantly, live sport is also crucial to our youth for something greater to aspire to other than a technology fix. It’s been evident and welcoming that the young in society have also been yearning to watch their teams play once again. 

Creating Chances: How sport put Fressard on straight and narrow

This article was first written for and published by NRL.com.

Jayme Fressard is the first to admit she was a bit of a “naughty kid” in school. Fortunately, sport came to the rescue.

“Growing up, I didn’t think school was for me. For a while I was getting into trouble and hanging out with the wrong kids,” she said.

“Then I found a sport that I loved. I had a couple of teachers that believed in me and pushed me and motivated me. Thanks to them, I ended up finishing my HSC, playing rugby sevens for Australia and staying in school.”

Lack of talent isn’t a problem in the NRL – but lack of good coaches may be

This post was first written for and published by the Roar.

here were plenty of stand-out players in the Wests Tigers 34-6 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday evening including Tommy Talau, David Nofoaluma and Joseph Leilua.

But there is one player that is being talked about a little more than the rest and that’s 22-year-old Harry Grant who the Tigers currently have on loan from the Melbourne Storm. In Sunday’s performance Grant led the number of tackles for the Tigers with 45, made 168 metres and scored a try.

Grass at the cutting edge: Stadium turf treated like ‘high-class athlete’

This article was first written for and published by NRL.com.

When you have high-priced commodities like NRL players gracing your stage, it’s fitting that the Bankwest and ANZ Stadium curators treat their turf “like it’s a high-class athlete”.

Since the Telstra Premiership has resumed, we’ve all marvelled at the on-field feats of our favourite players like Maika Sivo, James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic.

The sacking of Stephen Kearney absolutely stinks

This article was first written for and published by the Roar

ou would be hard pressed to find an NRL fan whose adopted second team for 2020 wasn’t the New Zealand Warriors.

The entire rugby league community has been moved by the sacrifices the club has made to keep the competition going, not least relocating the playing group to Australia so the competition could progress.

The sports media must promote inclusivity

This post was first written for and published by the Roar. 

t’s rare I choose to tune into Q+A on the ABC, but with a topic like the future of sport, this week was hard to miss.

On this week’s show there were panellists from a variety of sports covering the spectrum of sport, from players and administrators to journalists. One of the panellists was Andrew Abdo, acting CEO at the NRL.

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Not expendable: NRL’s strong message on women’s sport

This article was first written for and published by NRL.com.

Confirmation the NRLW will go ahead in 2020 sends the message that women’s sport is not expendable and is worth investing in.

You can imagine my happiness on Tuesday night when my social media feed lit up with fans, administrators and players celebrating the news the women’s premiership would return.

As I scrolled through posts of Kezie Apps, Ali Brigginshaw, Corban McGregor and Meg Ward sharing their excitement about getting out on the field, I had feeling of both joy and overwhelming relief.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that most sports and industries have faced very real financial pressures.

The NRL and the clubs have not been exempt from this. Earlier in the year, there was some speculation about whether the NRLW would go ahead.

The statement by the ARLC on Tuesday signalling its intent to help fund the competition demonstrates rugby league’s commitment to the women’s game and shows that the women’s game is a key part of rugby league’s future.

This is a message that all sports should commit to. Even though there remains a lot of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the future is brighter when there is a place for everyone to participate in our sports.

What we know is that the competition will run in the same format as last year. The Broncos, Dragons, Roosters and Warriors will field teams and the competition will run alongside the men’s finals, most likely in a double-header format.

In March I attended the T20 Women’s World Cup Final between Australia and India at the MCG. On International Women’s Day, 86,174 fans set a world record for attendance at a women’s cricket match and a record for attendance at a women’s sporting event in Australia.

On that day, there was a sense that this could be the start of a new normal and recognition of what could be achieved when women’s sport has appropriate investment and is taken.

Build it and they will come.

Despite the events of the last couple of months, this is a message worth remembering. This is not the time to be reducing funding, cutting teams or giving women less opportunity to participate.

This is our opportunity to recommit and make sure that women’s competitions are given the chance to thrive.

I know there will be some who still want more for the women’s game in this country. I do.

Had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred, I am confident that we would have seen the competition expand to two rounds of regular season games this year.

Last year, there was also discussion around the next group of clubs to field teams.

The Eels, Raiders and Knights all demonstrated interest and my understanding is that an announcement about which teams would be granted entry into the competition from 2021 and onwards was imminent just before the coronavirus changed the world.

The pandemic will mean our plans to be bigger and better need to wait another year. That’s OK.

This year’s NRLW will give fans an opportunity to continue to support the women’s game and demonstrate how important it is to us. When the time is right, that means turning up and tuning in to games, purchasing memberships and getting behind the four teams participating in the competition this year.

And if last year was anything to go by, Broncos and Dragons fans might have something to cheer for in 2020 after all.