It’s been almost a month since the details of the inaugural Women’s NRL was announced, but much like the rest of this season, the positives have been overshadowed by media uproars of the negatives.
Last week, Todd Greenberg started the hashtag #NRLTalkTheGameUp on twitter in response to this. While it wasn’t targeted at the reaction to the women’s game, it’s clearly applicable to it. While the proposed women’s game isn’t perfect, it has been overshadowed by its minor negative aspects.
From day one, the excitement of competition was hidden by the uproar over the exclusion of the Sharks and Rabbitohs. While both teams undeniably deserved a spot, and more than four teams would be great, it’s important to not look past the fact that progress is better than no progress. This year, for the first time ever, women will be competing in an elite level NRL competition, and that alone is something to be excited about.
Over the past few years, there has been record numbers in female involvements in rugby league, from players, to officials, to club members. Last year alone saw over 9000 girls and women playing in their first season of tag, touch or tackle rugby league in Australia, with new school and local competitions around the country. 2017 also saw a 32% increase in female participation across all age groups. While the NRL publicised these statistics, they received very little attention for such an outstanding increase, and it’s important to recognise this growth
Alongside the women’s competition, the NRL also introduced new pathways to help women develop their skills and grow from park footy to representative teams. While this behind the scenes procedure is often not really noticed by the public, it’s crucial to the development of players and teams. The NRL has done an excellent job is ensuring that there is an efficient and clear pathway to help bring the women’s game to an elite level.
Overall, it’s important that we recognise the good things that the NRL is doing for the women’s game. It’s undeniable that there are areas that need fixing and there’s room for improvement, but there is steady and clear progress. We need to recognise this positive growth and encourage it, rather than just expect more.