Nines league comp for girls launches
The Auckland Rugby League’s (ARL) Girls U15 and U17 Nines is the answer to Ocean Gatoloai’s dreams.
The new pilot nine-a-side competition will kickoff in 2017 with play on Saturdays, in line with the junior boys competition.
The only league competition for girls before senior club is in primary and secondary school levels.
Gatoloai, a year 8 student of Pasadena Intermediate School, last played competitive league in primary school while at Waterview Primary.
Since then, because there wasn’t any competition for girls in intermediate level, Gatoloai had to focus on other sports like softball and basketball.
‘‘I love playing league. I played wing when I was in primary school and I was really good at it,’’ the 12-year-old says.
‘‘I’m really happy that this competition will be held, only because I can pick up from where I left off.’’
Gatoloai says the competition will increase her chances of achieving her goal of playing in the New Zealand women’s national rugby league team, also known as the Kiwi Ferns.
Former Kiwi Fern Tasha Tapu says the Girls U15, U17 Nines is important for the future of women’s rugby league in the country.
‘‘From 13 until 17 years of age, girls are not able to play rugby league at club level,’’ Tapu says.
‘‘There are a few secondary schools that take part in the ARL Secondary School Girls competition, however this is only for a short period of time during the last term of school.
‘‘We could see that once girls started college, they had the opportunity to take up rugby which is stronger in the secondary school sector.’’
‘‘If we did not do something now, senior women’s rugby league will deteriorate and our ability to be world champions will be sacrificed.’’
Tapu says they received an overwhelming response from girls which proved they could field enough teams to form a com- petition.
ARL got on board and now, the Girls U15-U17 Nines will be an integral part of the league season.
Tapu says they hope to start pre-season training soon and hold a Nines tournament in February before the season kicks off.
Ocean Gatoloai is looking forward to playing in the new ARL competition.