International Women’s Day takes place on Sunday 8th March, with a theme of Each for Equal. Leeds Rhinos Foundation, the official charity of Leeds Rhinos, is helping to make opportunities for girls to play Rugby League equal through their Rugby League Development Plan with Mears.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, Leeds Rhinos Foundation hosted their Year 9 Girls Indoor Touch Final at Farnley Academy. The tournament saw over 30 girls from the Farnley, Bruntcliffe Academy, Abbey Grange and Corpus Christi compete in the round-robin event.
The Finals were led by Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Women and Girls Rugby League Development Officer, Shannon Lacey, who also plays for Leeds Rhinos Women and made her international debut for England last year. Each side received coaching from new Leeds Rhinos Women’s coach, Lois Forsell, who heads up the development work for women and girls at the Foundation.
Speaking after the event, Lacey said: “I think it’s massive for girls to get involved in sport, especially with International Women’s Day coming up. It’s not just the health benefits that you get from taking part in sport but it’s the idea of being a part of a team. The 2021 World Cup is coming up so we’re just trying to get as many girls involved in rugby league as possible.
“I think there’s so much more now available for girls to get involved in rugby now. When I was in school, it was just Lois that was coming into schools and now across the board, there is a lot more on offer and it’s proven with how big it’s becoming.
“We’d like to say a massive thank you to Mears for how passionate they’ve been in supporting the development of the women’s game. They’ve been really supportive of Leeds Rhinos Women’s team as well as work in the community and we’re really grateful for everything that they do for us.”
Abbie King, a PE Teacher at Farnley Academy, spoke about how the work Lacey and Forsell are doing is inspiring her students to get more involved in sport.
“It is really tricky to get girls involved in sport sometimes,” she commented. “They can lack motivation but having inspiring people coming into school, having the different teams doing so well and even just coming to promote the sessions is getting more girls involved and that’s fantastic.
“Shannon has been amazing, she’s really motivational to the girls and fully supportive of them. She’s able to come down and train the girls and really inspire them to want to do more.
“It’s great to have Leeds Rhinos come down and help, support and train our girls and for the students to have such an inspiring team, they feel engaged and motivated to move on and go further. Because of that, I’ve seen a much bigger uptake in rugby with the girls at our school.”
To find out more about what Leeds Rhinos Foundation does for women’s sport, email Lois.Forsell@leedsrhinosfoundation.org.