When Praise Galuvao first picked up a football, it wasn’t what she expected.
“I got forced into playing for my school when I was in year eight,” Praise, the daughter of former international and Rugby League veteran Joe Galuvao, tells NSWRL.com.au. “I thought ‘oh maybe if I go, my dad’s genetics will kick in and I’ll be able to play well.’
“I got smashed around that day and it was the worst experience.”
Luckily for Praise – and perhaps to a greater extent, her passionate father – the cruel misjudgement was not enough to keep her off the Rugby League field forever. After lining up for the Glenmore Park Brumbies in 2016, the 17-year-old will run out in the famous blue and gold of the Parramatta Eels in the inaugural season of the Tarsha Gale Cup.
“I don’t think I was really keen on the whole idea of playing football, mainly because I was scared of the expectation that came on me, being my dad’s daughter,” Praise says. “I’m still finding it hard to believe [playing for the Eels] – I started playing last year and I’m a lot more confident.”
Joe Galuvao – who represented Samoa, New Zealand and five NRL clubs, totalling 240 games – now works as an NRL Community Engagement Officer but in 2017 will coach Parramatta in the Tarsha Gale Cup. The under-18s girls competition, featuring nine teams and nine players per side, has given Joe the chance to see his daughter don the same colours that he wore himself in 2008 and 2009.
“It’s great to be involved, [especially] when my daughter’s playing here at Parramatta,” Joe says. “The girls come with a whole different set of unique skills to engage in and I think what they have a lot of is enthusiasm. That’s one thing you can’t coach and that’s a good base to work from.”
“The thought of me playing football really excited my dad,” Praise adds, joking about his enthusiasm. “He is very passionate about giving me tips – whether I want to hear it or not.
“But he’s really helpful. I know my team really appreciate the effort that he’s put in; it’s a great thing that I have a dad as generous as him.”
As the first competition of its kind, the Tarsha Gale Cup remains much of an unknown to players, coaches and supporters alike. The Eels side was set to kick off the maiden season with a bang, taking on traditional rivals the Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground at 8:30 this morning - but the match was cancelled due to extreme heat.
While Praise will have to wait another week to play, she knows the side will need to run their own race in a bid to secure the first win in the competition’s history.
“Who knows what the other teams are like,” Praise concedes. “We’re going to give it 100 per cent no matter what. We wish the best to all the other teams but I’m confident that our team has worked hard enough to see a win in the first game.”
“It’s no different when you’re playing in the male game,” Joe continues. “You’ve just got to do what you do at training, prepare as best as you can and take those things out with you.”