The day we knew we belonged
The day I realised that the Roosters are a special club was Mad Monday last season, when the men’s team gatecrashed our party.
Us girls were at a bowling club in Coogee, while the guys had a full schedule with parties at different venues, celebrating their Grand Final win. In the end, they ditched those plans and decided to just chill and relax with us.
None of us had really played for a club with an inclusive culture like that before. It meant a lot for us to be thought of like that.
This season, I’ve been chatting with the girls who’ve joined us from other teams and they’re absolutely blown away by the culture we have here. They reckon they could feel the difference the moment they stepped through the door on their first day of pre-season.
At some other clubs, the women don’t have anything to do with the men’s team. The only time they’d cross paths with the guys was on the bus, when they were made to sit up the back and told not to bother anyone.
Here at the Roosters, it’s completely different.
Last year, they built a new loungeroom for us which we can come and use any time. They’ve given us passes, so we have access to all the facilities seven days a week. Even on a Sunday night, if we want to come in and do some training or just chill out, we can.
It even went as far as the club relocating our training field, which used to be a 20-minute drive from the clubhouse. We were supposed to warm up in the gym and then make our way over to training, but by the time we’d arrive we’d have cooled down.
On top of that, the 40-minute round trip was far from ideal because we’re all quite short of time. We’re juggling careers and family, and some of us are even commuting from as far away as Newcastle.
Our coach Rick Stone had a chat with Trent Robinson about it and Trent adjusted the schedule for the men’s team to accommodate us. He made sure that we could use the main field directly across the road from the SCG to save us time.
Things like that tell me that this club is there for us in the long term. All the girls are completely looked after, and everything is well organised. It makes me proud to wear the red, white and blue.
Why I don’t feel selfish
When the NRLW season is on, my daughter London pleads with me every day to let her come to training. She might only be six years old, but she loves being around the girls and the Roosters environment.
There are a few other mothers in the team, especially during our club season in the Harvey Norman Premiership, so there’s usually a few young ones running around on the sidelines. My London thinks she’s the big kid, trying to carry them all around, even though she’s probably only 5cm taller than them.
It makes me proud, knowing that she could potentially follow in my footsteps and make it to the NRLW one day. That’s my motivation.
Seeing how this competition inspires her is proof that I’m doing the right thing, which means a lot because there are many sacrifices that I’ve had to make to play footy at a high level.
Being away from your child, working Monday to Friday, is hard enough. When you factor in the amount of time I spend training, travelling and playing, then it becomes a really difficult juggling act.
London and I don’t have a tonne of spare time to do things like go to the park together or to just hang out straight after school, because we’re working to a really packed schedule. We have to make time to be together as a family.
Finding a balance is the hardest part of being a female sportsperson. If I was just playing lower grade footy, I don’t think I could do it. I’d feel too selfish.
But seeing how my footy career in the NRLW inspires London makes all the tough times worth it. I’m helping to establish a new elite women’s rugby league competition, so girls like her will have a future in our sport.
She plays for the Mascot Jets under-7s team during the winter months. It’s unreal watching her run around out there, playing the sport she loves.
But it does mean that she’s a Souths local. She supports the Bunnies for the men’s team and the Roosters for the women. We’ve just had to accept that for what it is.
There was a time last year, when we played the Dragons before the men’s semi-final between the Roosters and Bunnies. She had a Roosters top on for my game and then as soon as we finished, she pulled it off and pulled out her big Bunnies flag.
She was out there waving that flag like there was no tomorrow.
She’s made up her own mind about the teams she wants to follow and that makes me happy.
A lot of young girls play footy with their brothers and cousins and friends in the backyard, building their passion for rugby league. But as they grow up, that passion doesn’t go away.
The NRLW is about showing young girls that there is a career path for them, if they want to play the sport they love. That’s all they want; to be accepted and included.