Newsome Panthers are a friendly rugby league club which looks to encourage both male and female players of all ages. Now the club is looking to expand its women’s section and has made big leaps forward this year already.
The club now has a first team and under-16 and under-12 sides and club secretary Becky Roberts is delighted with the progress.
She said: “I have been at the club for seven years now. My stepson plays for the club and we have age groups going from five years old up to the senior adult first team level.
“The whole club is in a very good position this year. We are very proud of all of the players we have and it doesn’t matter to us if they don’t go on to play at a professional level. As long as they enjoy being at Newsome, that is fine for us. We want the kids to feel safe, enjoy their rugby, burn some energy and make friends.
“When girls get to under-12 age that is when they can no longer play with boys. What happens at a lot of clubs is that when girls get to that age bracket, that is where their journey in the sport ends.
“We don’t want that to happen. We had four under-11 girls last year but because we have been proactive and want to build a women’s team pyramid at the club we have decided to create an under-12 girls section.
“On Wednesday nights we have made that the women’s training night, so no boys’ team trains on that evening. The girls of all ages can come and feel safe.
“I know when I was younger I didn’t want to train when lads were there. So I’m really pleased we have created an environment where the girls can think it’s about them and they feel comfortable and safe in what is predominantly a male-dominated sport. It gives them a chance to be tough and go into tackles full throttle without thinking too much about it.”
The club has gone from just four girls last year at under-12 level to now recruiting 12 girls for that team. They have created an under-16 team where 11 girls regularly take part and the Panthers have a women’s first team where they have seen as many as 25 women turning up for training sessions.
On that progression and the next step, Becky added: “We started something this year and we are hoping to have three full teams next year.
“For each team we need a minimum of 15 players so we are a bit short at the moment but by the time the season starts next year hopefully we’ll have enough players. You need 15 players per team to enter a league and that’s what we want to do, play competitively.”
Becky believes 2022 has been a big year for women in sport and added: “I didn’t really have it growing up but women’s sport has grown so much and as a club we want to be part of that and that is why we are putting lots of effort into growing these teams.
“We recently went as a club to the women’s rugby league grand final and took a number of the girls to watch it which was inspiring. Obviously we have the World Cup coming up and that hopefully will get more girls interested in the sport. I think the RFL is trying its best to raise equality in the sport and they should be praised for that.”
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