Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh

Meet the driving force behind Gympie’s junior girls teams

RUGBY LEAGUE: Gympie junior girls player numbers have continued to strengthen and rise thanks to the dedication of one teenager Charlotte Blackwood.

The 14-year-old is too old for the Devils under-14 girls side, so she has rallied her friends for the Devils to field an under-16s girls team for the first time this year.

Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh

This is not the teens first time organising a side, she was one of the driving forces who got the Devils under-14 girls side off the ground with fellow teammate Tia McLellan in 2018. The side won the Sunshine Coast Falcons under-14s title last year.

“I have been recruiting girls to play this season because we had to start a whole new team, the under-16s,” she said.

“We have been recruiting for the under-16s and also the under-14s and trying to get two sides for the girls this season.

Gympie Junior Rugby League presentations – Under-14 girls (back, from left) Rouwanee Williams, Charlotte Blackwood, Marissa Nicholls, Ruby Kross, Kiely Jackson, Shanay Matthews and Tanaya Takie. (front) Charneyle Coleman, Amy Wheeler, Jamaika Lawrence, Alyssa Pershouse, Chloe Morton, Sharnae Parker-Kevin, Molly Byrne and Maddison Belsham. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Junior Rugby League presentations – Under-14 girls (back, from left) Rouwanee Williams, Charlotte Blackwood, Marissa Nicholls, Ruby Kross, Kiely Jackson, Shanay Matthews and Tanaya Takie. (front) Charneyle Coleman, Amy Wheeler, Jamaika Lawrence, Alyssa Pershouse, Chloe Morton, Sharnae Parker-Kevin, Molly Byrne and Maddison Belsham. Photo: Bec Singh

“I love playing football and we did not have one (under-16 team) and a lot of the girls wanted to come back from last year and play. A few girls missed out because they were not allowed to play down. I just want everyone to have an opportunity to play the sport that they love.”

With 17 registered players for the under-16s under the guidance of coach Tom Kross, who lead the girls to their under-14s title, the side is looking pretty strong.

“We also know of a few more that are going to play and I am really looking forward to playing,” she said.

Gympie Junior Rugby League presentations – Under-14 girls Denny (Dennis) Harwood Memorial Trophy Spirit of Ruby League Award Tom Kross. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Junior Rugby League presentations – Under-14 girls Denny (Dennis) Harwood Memorial Trophy Spirit of Ruby League Award Tom Kross. Photo: Bec Singh

“It was pretty cool when I came to training and to see girls here that I did not know were coming. There were so many girls that I did not expect to come up, it felt really good.

“I cannot wait for the season to start. He (Kross) is our favourite, he does so much for us girls. He is more of a friend than a coach, he is basically like family.

Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh

Blackwood has a simple recruitment strategy which seems to be effective.

“I just get on social media and also text people asking them to play that I know play sport and a lot of girls from last year were texting their friends asking them to play,” she said.

“When you come down and you do not know anyone you can be a bit nervous but we are always going to be nice to you. We are not going to put anyone down, we are lucky to have them.”

Blackwood is not shy of talent, she has been selected for the Sunshine Coast Falcons junior teams, Central Crows rep team and Wide Bay rugby league sides.

Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Devils junior rugby league – Driving force behind getting the under-16s and under-14s girls teams is Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh

Playing in the NRLW is Blackwood’s aim, getting these sides together is giving her the opportunity to get closer to one day being a professional rugby league player.

With finals the dream this season, she just wants consistency from the players.

“We would love to win another flag with Tom as our coach. He has really helped us girls last year who did not know how to play and taught us that we can do anything if we put our mind to it,” she said.

Gympie Junior Rugby League presentations – Under-14 girls Best and Fairest Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Junior Rugby League presentations – Under-14 girls Best and Fairest Charlotte Blackwood. Photo: Bec Singh

“We are just happy to play and we will do the best that we can each week.”

Any girls or boys interested in playing can phone Cheryll Grubner 0438 216 186 and training is on Tuesday and Thursday at 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

Gympie Times


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