Touch Football Celebrates Harvey Norman Women in League Round

8 AUG 2016 | BY LAUREN PRITCHARD

The NRL will celebrate a decade of the Harvey Norman Women in League Round this weekend (Round 22) at a time when female participation in all forms of League continues to be the fastest growing category in the game.

It also provides a fitting connection to salute the wonderful contributions women and girls of all ages have made to the sport of Touch Football over an enduring period.

The Harvey Norman Women in League Round is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the over 450,000 women who have direct connections to the game. This includes players, coaches, referees, administrators and volunteers across all forms of the game, across Touch Football and Rugby League communities.

Touch Football Australia, CEO and NRL Women in League Committee Member, Colm Maguire recognised the fantastic contributions women make to Touch Football week-in and week-out, and looks forward to highlighting the achievements and sharing in the celebrations this week.

“What a wonderful initiative to be part of showcasing the great contributions that women make across both codes, but particularly highlighting Touch Football’s leading ladies who will feature as part of the celebrations this week,” he said.

“With near parity participation with males across the country, we are blessed as a sport to have such an incredible female base; extending from schools, to the park and through to administrators and volunteers at all levels.

“And, in terms of higher level representation, from our wonderful Australian athletes who play such a vital role as ambassadors at the national level, but also to our female role models at the highest levels of the sport in terms of our leadership group and at Board level.

“And, in keeping with the theme of ‘firsts’ and milestones this week, we are so very proud to acknowledge Anita Hagarty as our sport’s inaugural female Chairperson; leading and driving our various participation and promotion/profile growth initiatives from the top.”

Hills Hornets Touch Association’s (Sydney) very own Zali Mitchell featured last week alongside a number of the game’s most high profile women in The Sunday Telegraph, to celebrate 10 Years of Women in League. The 10 year-old junior Touch player, spoke of her relatively short time in the sport and what the partnership between the NRL and Touch Football means to her and fellow girls’ players.

“I have only been playing Touch Football for three years and the biggest change has been that more of my friends are now playing Touch and following Rugby League teams. Being in the NRL-Touch Football television advertisement last year was exciting and showed that girls can play too.”

Among the group was CEO of Touch Football’s whole-of-game partner, Harvey Norman, Katie Page, the driving force of the Women in League initiative since its inception in 2007.

“Each of these groups of women (at all levels) must remain the foundation of why Women in League exists and who it seeks to support. Female influence, participation and perspective is required across the code if it is to expand and thrive.

“The Australian sporting landscape is highly competitive – no sport or code can afford to neglect the role women can and do play. This is a vital consideration that must remain a constant, consistent priority.”

Page and Mitchell were joined by a number of NRL club and player and media representatives, including Channel Nine’s, Yvonne Sampson who Zali was lucky enough to spend some time with.

Sampson spoke on her own position anchoring the State of Origin and Sunday Footy Show and just how far women have progressed through the game in the last decade: “There is such a strong contingent of women that now make key decisions in the game; women such as Rebecca Frizelle who sits on the board of the Titans and Raelene Castle, the CEO of the Bulldogs, are examples of highly influential in the game, which is great.”

Sampson also spoke on the importance of younger female participants, including those from Touch Football: “Having Zali along was also great as so many young girls just like her hold the keys to the future.”

For all information on #WomeninLeague Round visit the Touch Football Australia website and social media channels and NRL.com/womeninleague. Check out the profiles on our Australia Women’s Open Players and Ladies Who League’s ‘Five women in footy you need to meet’ feature including TFA Chair, Anita Hagarty.

A number of aligned activities will be conducted through the week including a women’s exhibition Touch Football match at half-time of the Storm vs Rabbitohs match this Saturday night at AAMI Park, Melbourne.

Set of Six – WIL Fast Facts
◾302,400+ girls and women participating in Touch Football across Australia at some level (including referees, coaches, administrators, etc.)
◾232,800+ girls and women playing Touch Football across Australia
◾2,000+ female coaches, sports trainers and referees involved in the game across Australia
◾More than 5,200+ registered female volunteers involved in the game across Australia
◾Female participation is the fastest growing area of the game, up 27% on 2015.
◾At a board level, the TFA Chair, Anita Hagarty is joined by the NRL’s one female commissioner (Catherine Harris) and New South Wales Rugby League has one female board member (Deborah Healey). Across the 16 NRL clubs, there are 13 female board members, including two Chairwomen (Rebecca Frizelle, Gold Coast Titans and Marina Go, Wests Tigers).