NSWRL Chief Executive Officer Dave Trodden extended his thanks to major partner Harvey Norman for playing their part to ensure the women’s game keeps breaking barriers and raising the bar.
With the NRL’s 2021 Women in League Round underway, Trodden reflected on the input Harvey Norman has made without hesitation and without significant expectation.
“Their investment in the game has always been about advancing the interests of women in sport and providing opportunities for them,” Trodden said.
“We wouldn’t have our women’s competitions without Harvey Norman’s support – it’s as simple as that. So, they should be acknowledged for that.”
The Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup (Under 19s) and the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership bring the best women’s talent across the state to the fore.
But Trodden said the theme of 2021 Women in League Round is ‘Play Your Part’ - and it is more complex than simply staging women’s competitions for players.
“There is a great importance within NSWRL to provide off-field opportunities for women, like there is for on-field activity,” Trodden said.
“For example, we appointed Kylie Hilder as coach of the Harvey Norman Sky Blues team – the first women’s Origin head coach in NSW. We also had former NSW and Jillaroos captain Ruan Sims as one of her assistants.
“We don’t have many women coaches in the game, and why is that? Well the opportunities haven’t been provided for them by the game – we need to change that, it’s the old adage ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’
“So, one of our roles as a governing body is to actually provide leadership in those areas. We need to see clubs follow suit with leadership roles, and coaching staff roles.”
NSWRL has two women in its leadership team; Jodie Cross, Chief Commercial Officer and Tracie Edmondson, Head of Communications and Community Engagement, and another in its football staff; Yvette Downey as Head of Major Competitions
“If we’re not prepared to do it ourselves – leading the way – how can we ever expect anyone else to do it?” Trodden said.
“I have a really strong belief in Jodie and Tracie from our leadership team and Kylie and Yvette from our football staff. I think they will become long-term role models within the women’s game.
“And someone like Yvette has been appointed to a football role not specific to women. She controls all the competitions run in NSW and only two are women’s competition – Tarsha Gale Cup and Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership.
“So, the vast majority are male competitions. That’s when you get some breakthrough in seeing appointments on the basis of merit.”
The breakthroughs are well and truly happening out on the playing field.
In 2015 there were 6,695 females registered. That grew to 16,337 in 2018, and then again to 22,862 in 2021.
“That’s now a proud piece of NSWRL history – to break the 20,000 mark for the first time for female participation,” Trodden said.
“But we want more and we’re working for that every day.”