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NSWRL-UNE Leadership Course celebrates latest graduates

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) has tonight celebrated the achievements of 21 women from diverse sports and roles at a graduation ceremony for the organisation’s unique  2022 Women in Sport Leadership professional development program.

NSW Office of Sport Chief Executive, Karen Jones, joined NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden, Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder and Opposition Minister for Sport Julia Finn at the graduation dinner hosted by Fox League anchor Yvonne Sampson, at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park.

The program, held over 20 weeks (September – December 2022), brought together general managers, coaches, football managers, media officers, referees, development officers from 11 sporting organisations including Gymnastics NSW, Hockey NSW, Diving NSW, Football NSW, Volleyball NSW, Snow Australia, Surfing NSW, Blind Sports and Recreation NSW-ACT, What Ability Foundation, NRL Wheelchair, NSWRL and NSWRL clubs.

Participants undertook a series of face-to-face workshops supported by individual coaching sessions, and group webinars to complete assessment in two modules, which gives them nationally-recognised credit towards a Diploma or Certificate IV in leadership and management.

The innovative training initiative, first run as a pilot program in 2021-22, was developed by the NSWRL in partnership with the University of New England (UNE), to help reduce the barriers women face in achieving leadership roles across elite sports by supporting their career development in the key areas of leadership self-awareness and communication.

Following the success of the pilot, the NSWRL secured government funding through the 2022 Her Sport Her Way grant program, enabling it to offer Women in Sport Leadership scholarships to aspiring elite women coaches and administrators from a variety of sporting organisations.

The Her Sport Her Way Grants Program is part of the NSW Government’s Women in Sport strategy designed to assist sporting organisations to continue to increase participation and promote and encourage women to be leaders in sport.

NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said the organisation felt strongly about the potential of the Australian sporting sector to become a leader in gender equity and the role it can play through programs such as this. 

“To achieve this potential we need to enhance the recruitment and retention of women leaders, coaches and match officials in a variety of roles across the entire sporting sector,” he said.

“The phrase ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is often used in relation to advancing opportunities for women in sport and it is exactly why NSWRL was adamant about opening up the opportunity to participate in our Women in Sport Leadership Program to all sports. 

“We are thrilled that so many sports wanted to be involved and also very grateful for the State Government funding which enabled us to continue to offer the program, building capacity and opportunities in all sports, not just for Rugby League.”

Two of the graduates of the pilot program included Hilder and her assistant NSW coach (also NSW County coach) Ruan Sims.

Among the graduates from the current program are former Jillaroo and newly-appointed 2023 Penrith Rugby League Women’s (PRLW) Coach Karen Stuart, and Women’s State of Origin touch judge and regular central referee in men’s Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield games, Karra-Lee Nolan.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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