Almost 500 schoolgirls from across the state will converge on Greater Western Sydney today (Thursday 20 September) for the 2018 Female State Finals Day, an event that celebrates and highlights the rise and rise of women's Rugby League.
The statewide competition for schoolgirls, in Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18/ Open age categories, features the top 32 teams in the four age groups who have qualified through local and regional events throughout Terms two and three.
In total, 4571 girls from 325 teams have taken part in the qualifying rounds for the tournament which was staged as a stand-alone schoolgirls event for the first time last year as part of a joint initiative of the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) and National Rugby League (NRL).
NSWRL Head of Competitions Yvette Downey said the event, to be held across fields at The Kingsway and St Marys Stadium, is testament to the rapid growth and popularity of Rugby League for schoolgirls across the entire state.
"The quality of the competition and the number of schoolgirls playing is an endorsement of the great work that has been done to establish pathways for girls and women to be involved," Downey said.
"Of particular significance is the work being done on the ground by NRL Development staff across the state in coordinating the hundreds of gala days that led to this event.
"Just a few years ago girls had to stop playing at 12 and restart at 18; now we have a State schoolgirls championship for 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s/open age groups which this year attracted more than 4500 girls in 325 teams."
NRL National Participation and Game Development Manager, John Wilson said: "The continued success and growth of the event wouldn't be possible without the hard work and support of the NRL Game Development team, NSWRL and CRL, our school educators and associations.
"This combined effort goes a long way to ensuring we have more young girls having fun playing Rugby League in New South Wales and across the country."
*NOTE: The 2018 NSW Female State Finals Day will be live streamed on nrl.com.au and nswrl.com.au from 9am to 6.30pm.
Image: Brett Costello, Daily Telegraph