Having seen first hand the struggles of overcoming the stigmas around women’s participation in Rugby League, Jillaroos fullback Sam Hammond is working to shore up the future of young female talents.
The Helensburgh product is the daughter of former Shark Gary Hammond, and works closely with the NRL in promoting the many roles of women in Rugby League.
“In every role in Rugby League – whether it be in the canteen, game day preparation, or playing – it’s very important to acknowledge the involvement of women in the sport,” Hammond said.
The 23-year-old’s off-field contribution to female Rugby League stands just as, if not more important, than those she makes on it.
In between paying routine visits to schools and clinics, Hammond is also readying herself for Friday’s clash against the Kiwi Ferns.
Last taking on the New Zealanders at the Auckland Nines tournament, the Jillaroos will be out to atone for their 2-1, best-of-three series defeat in January.
Hammond said although not playing on the ANZAC weekend, she and the Australians would channel the emotions of last Saturday’s commemorative services as a source of added motivation.
“It’s a really important, and a humbling day on a whole. Getting to play a sport that we’re all so passionate about, and that we love, basically for the ANZAC test, it’s huge,” she said.
“It’s putting two such important things together, which I know is such a rare occasion, and I’m very lucky to be apart of it.”
Despite now prepping for an international clash at the premier Suncorp Stadium, the Australian number one vividly recalls her introduction to Rugby League.
Having rallied a group of her friends to form a side at the age of 18, Hammond attributes her successes – and holds the hope of future Australian triumphs – to grassroots football.
In taking the message of participation to junior clinics, Hammond strives to increase female participation in grassroots League, and perhaps, to unearth future Jillaroos stars in doing so.
“Everything starts from grassroots, so that’s the most important area,” she said.
“One of the best things from the win of that World Cup, it gave us more exposure so it lead to more opportunities for the Jillaroos to be exposed to younger females.
“Other than becoming the world champions, that was one of the highlights. Now people know that there's an opportunity like that for young girls to aspire to.”
The Jillaroos take on the Kiwi Ferns at Suncorp Stadium this Friday evening. For more information on the match, visit www.nrl.com