Sporting Confidential: Emily struggles to kick goals

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AS a 12-year-old girl in a boys’ rugby league competition, Emily Ernst has been tested plenty of times in her 90 games with the Gungahlin Bulls.

The battles on the field though, will pale into insignificance as she takes on the Australian Rugby League Commission.

Apparently, there is a rule that prevents girls from playing rugby league with the boys beyond the age of 12. The primary reason given is the physical difference between boys and girls at that age. According to those who have seen Emily play, she more than handles her own against the boys.

The rules state that 12-year-old girls need to play in an all-girl competition. Emily says she would be happy to play in an all-girl league, the only problem is that there is no such competition in Canberra. So where does that leave Emily?

Emily and her mother Melissa are now campaigning to change the rules so as to allow girls to play rugby league in a boys’ competition if there is no equivalent girls’ league in the area.

They have sought support from the Bulls’ Juniors and the Canberra District Junior Rugby League. Karen Ebsworth, from the Canberra Junior Rugby League, says she is keen to see whether there is interest in establishing a junior girls’ competition in the ACT. Until then, Emily and Melissa are keen to take up the fight for her right to play with the boys.

Big test for Canberra?

JUST on rugby league… the ACT Government is vying with Perth for the rights to host the Anzac Rugby League test next year at Canberra Stadium. The proposal includes a week of community activities in the lead-up.

Life’s a beach

LOOKING down the list of ACT Academy of Sport athletes heading to the London Olympics, one name that stands out is beach volleyballer Natalie Cook.

Cook, who won gold at the Sydney Olympics, has qualified for a record fifth Games.

She is an unusual recipient of an ACTAS Scholarship; she lives in Brisbane and the beach volleyball program is based in Adelaide. At 37, she is established in business in Brisbane and wasn’t prepared to move to Adelaide and, as such, a compromise was needed.

Natalie’s strength and conditioning coach Phil Moreland is now working at ACTAS and she was keen to keep working with him, so support was offered in the form of a scholarship.

To qualify for the Olympics, she has raised $200,000 to get to London.

In return, Natalie has been invaluable in her role as a mentor to some of the young Canberra athletes preparing for the Olympics: Caroline Buchanan, Melissa Breen and Anna Flannigan had sessions with Natalie.

Beach volleyball is something you would not associate with Canberra, but in this case, it would appear to be a natural synergy.

Beware of burnout

LAUREN Jackson says she is committed to playing with the Canberra Capitals next season despite a massive program that sees her leading Australia to the Olympics, playing a season in the WNBA, before returning to play in the WNBL.

Added to this, she is also having a house built in Albury.

Her program will need to be monitored to avoid burnout.

It won’t be easy. To add to her time, the Canberra Capitals will be seeking to utilise Lauren in marketing their brand during her time in Canberra.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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