The NSWRL’s innovative junior participation programs have taken another step forward with an under-10s Aussie rules team trading goals for tries in the Penrith district.
The M8s initiative is targeted at kids who may not want to or are able to play week-in, week-out Rugby League during the season, and is a hassle-free opportunity for young kids to participate in fast-paced and friendly footy fun.
Kamalita Schmidt manages the Young Western Magic - an under-10s girls AFL team that recently played a grand final – and admits it did not take a lot to convince the keen kids and parents to take part in the new competition.
“I wish they had this [format] a long time ago, it’s very good the way they promote the girls now,” Schmidt tells NSWRL.com.au.
“I got an email from our secretary that M8s was happening this month, so I had a chat to the girls and even though we were heading to the GF they were interested in heading over to Rugby League and the parents thought why not.
“The chance for the girls to play two sports was there, they are really talented and really like it.”
Schmidt’s story is an interesting one, as she is directly involved in her son’s St Patrick’s Junior Rugby League club as well as her younger daughter's AFL team.
She is incredibly appreciative of her AFL club for being so supportive in bringing the team over to the Rugby League M8s format, as participation in all sports is a priority that the NSWRL are targeting.
“My daughter a couple of years ago was playing Rugby League and didn’t get much time on the field, and she asked me to look for any sports to play,” Schmidt says.
“We tried AFL and she liked it so I kept her in the sport, but I also kept my son in St Patrick’s Junior League and I was involved in both clubs.
“Playing more sports is good for the girls especially for their fitness in the off-season just before the AFL season starts again.”
The M8s competition runs for four weeks in an eight-a-side format, with each team playing two 20-minute games per week on a modified field.
Simply get eight or so mates together and nominate a team – or register as an individual and NSWRL will place you in a team. Non-Junior League players are welcome and insurance is provided.
Each team will receive a different coloured set of T-shirts to be worn during matches and these will be provided free of charge.
The other major alternative format the NSWRL is running is W8s, which aim to provide a fun opportunity for young boys and girls to participate in a Rugby League format which reduces the amount of size differences between players.
Click here for more information on NSWRL's innovative participation programs.