PATHWAYS: The 2017 under-14 and U16 Gladstone Raidettes pictured on junior grand final day.
PATHWAYS: The 2017 under-14 and U16 Gladstone Raidettes pictured on junior grand final day. Matt Harris

Female junior rugby league participation on the rise in Gladstone

RUGBY LEAGUE: Female rugby league participation rates for juniors in Gladstone hit new heights in 2017 with an increase almost three times that of the state average.

Junior female participation in Gladstone was up 59% from 2016, dwarfing the Queensland average increase of 21%.

There was 4646 female players registered with Queensland clubs this year.

That's not the only highlight for the Port City with 75% of all junior players (both male and female) being retained from season 2016 to 2017.

This was one of the highest retention rates in Queensland.

Registered junior coaches are at an all-time high (101 compared to 93 last year), while registered Gladstone & District Junior Rugby League participation is up 3% (1114 to 1143), which is another positive sign considering the tough economic conditions and decrease in population.

Queensland Rugby League managing director Robert Moore was pleased the code was holding its own during a challenging period for many traditional team sports.

"We're really excited about the pathways and opportunities on offer for our female participants,” Moore said.

"To now have Open Women's competitions in the South East, Mackay, Bundaberg, Gladstone/Rockhampton and the Central Highlands is a feather in the cap for the game.

"Earlier this year, we held our first Female Queensland Academy of Sport camp and only recently our best Under 14 and 16 girls were in action at the State Junior Championships.”

GDRL president Richard Duff said junior and senior player numbers were in a happy space at the moment.

"It's great and a lot of it is female participation in the senior ranks who want to play and you can put that down to Chelsea Baker making the Jillaroos,” he said.

"We recognise that and really want to work on junior and senior numbers.

"(Gladstone NRL game development officer) Rod Dahl and (GDRL operations manager) Peter White are really active on that and have plans to drive those numbers up.

"We're also looking at a girls sevens competition next year, the female-friendly facility improvements at Marley Brown and field upgrades.”

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