This story has been written by our friend and regular TotalRL.com columnist Louise Woodward-Styles (@MsCityRedGirl). She has an extremely bright and passionate personality and we are so pleased to feature her story today which is dedicated to Pat Price of Widnes RLFC who sadly passed away yesterday.
As a casual observer of Australian ‘Footy’ mainly on social media I may add, I have been left thrilled and immensely envious of how the NRL have acted with sincerity when it comes to acknowledging and celebrating the impact female league supporters have within our great sport. Rugby League’s Women in League program is about not only recognising but also rewarding those women who play an important role within the sport.
The annual ‘Women Of League’ round held in round 10, (16-19thMay) is the annual celebration when the NRL is taken over, awash with pink innovative and wholly positive celebration of togetherness. It has long been said in life that ‘behind every good man is a great woman’ and the same can be said for the thirteen-a-side sport. The Harvey Norman Women in League program celebrates and acknowledges the role of women at all levels and in all areas of Rugby League. Established in 2007, the Women in League program aims to make women feel proud of their roles and contribution to the game. Over 140,000 women and girls have a direct connection with Rugby League – whether it be as administrators, players, coaches, employees, volunteers or club members- women really are at the heart of the game.
There is no escaping the fact that at times a select few league stars have been disrespectful, distasteful and damn right disgusting in their behavior towards women, but personally I don’t believe that can be attributed to the mind set of the sport, instead the symptom of a world that objectifies women as sex objects, baby making machines who should know their place i.e., in the kitchen or on her knees in the bedroom. (Descriptive I know).
Looking back through my ever increasing personal league library I come across brilliant snippets about glamorous League ladies usually employed within a club as secretary or lottery agent, often under the title ‘The impressively beautiful Ms. Smith’ amusing as the description may be (what about an average looking female?) it is a delightful insight into just how far back women have been involved.
Thankfully gone are the descriptive pen pics and in it’s place genuine admiration for the influx of knowledgeable and talented women. The impact of league women cannot be underestimated, Kath Hetherington former C.E.O of Hull and now director of Wakefield Trinity although has played a significant role in British rugby league since the early eighties, and continues to do so.
Back in Australia the NRL has signed up to the government supported ‘Voice Against Violence’ – an anti-violence program created to educate and create conversations with men in the Rugby League family on domestic violence and the impact it has on our society.
Whilst on these shores the much loved and respected Angela Powers, (Sky Sports’ Rugby League reporter/producer and founder of UK Rugby league organisation Her RL) is making great waves with the charity that was set up in 2013 it’s objectives are simple: to promote the game of rugby league by highlighting one of its greatest assets – its women, through workshops, award ceremonies and community work.
Thanks to women such as Mary Konstantopoulos, the Sydney based Lawyer who set up the popular blogging site ‘Ladies who League’ just over a year ago.
Off the pitch it certainly is ‘Girl Power’ and will no doubt continue to grow. Much of the current opportunities can be attributed to the ladies of yesteryear: Margaret Ratcliffe and the late Hilary Steel OBE, two women who toiled and cemented their role in the sport. It is true that the loss of Sally Bolton OBE is a great loss to the sport but all is not lost, it is thanks to the ongoing dedication and work of Angela Powers, Lorraine Marsden, Rebecca Smith, Julie Stott, Honor James, and Amanda Wilkinson that the game has a bright future, now that really is Girl Power worth celebrating.
Ladies who League