Nines league comp for girls launches

Auckland City Harbour News - - SITUATIONS VACANT - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHANDRA

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.

TORIKA TOKALAU-CHANDRA

Ocean Ga­toloai is look­ing for­ward to play­ing in the new ARL com­pe­ti­tion.

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