A teenage girl banned from playing footy is tackling the National Rugby League’s gender policy, with her family launching a discrimination complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission.
Scott and Kylie Walls say their daughter was sidelined from her mixed-gender team in Western Australia when she turned 13 – even though she was named best and fairest player.
Under the NRL’s nationwide policy, boys and girls can only play in full contact competitions until the age of 12, then the sexes must separate as it’s considered to be too dangerous.
But her parents told Daily Mail Australia ‘she’s not intimidated by the boys and doesn’t need protecting’.
A teenage girl (pictured) banned from playing footy is tackling the National Rugby League’s gender policy, with her family launching a discrimination complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission
‘No one went easy on her and she didn’t go easy on them,’ her mother Mrs Walls said.
‘The rules aren’t supported by science. It’s 2021 and girls don’t need to be protected.
‘In a few years time she could go join the defence force and they have no combat restrictions, but she can’t play footy on a grass field.’
The talented Joondalup Giants fullback moved to Perth’s north with her family from rural NSW in 2019.
Since under sixes, she’s been carving up defences as a second-rower and half back.
When she got the heartbreaking news this year she was banned from playing, the rough-and-tumble teen was crushed.
The girl (pictured scoring a try) was sidelined from her mixed-gender team in Western Australia when she turned 13 – even though she was named best and fairest player
‘She was absolutely devastated,’ Mr Walls said. ‘She had done all her preseason training and was really looking forward to the season and they just said “no you are not playing”.’
‘The coach was instructed not to play the girl and if he continued to train her the team would be banned under the rules.
‘She was very upset and she cried.’
The coach and her teammates were sad to see their star player go, after watching her match it with the league’s best the previous year.
‘She is in no way intimidated by the boys and they all see her as their equal,’ Mr Walls said.
‘She’s tough, she’s a skilled player and she’s just as good a player as them. She handles it with ease and loves the challenge of it.’
Scott and Kylie Walls (pictured) told Daily Mail Australia their daughter is ‘not intimidated by the boys and doesn’t need protecting’
While there’s an all-girls team in the area, only two teams compete in the competition.
The talented young footballer does have one other option to rejoin the side but her parents say it’s ‘offensive and invasive’.
An exception for a female can be granted if the girl undergoes a medical exam to evaluate her ‘physique, strength and stamina’.
The NRL said their policy is consistent with how most contact sports approach their community competitions.
‘The WA league and the player’s local club have been working with the player and her family to provide opportunities for her to continue to develop her skills and play rugby league,’ the NRL told the West Australian.
‘Girls and women play a very important part in growing participation in rugby league in WA and we want to ensure everyone feels welcome in our game.’
The NRL said their policy is consistent with how most contact sports approach their community competitions. Pictured: The NRLW Grand Final between the Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium in Sydney
Under the Sex Discrimination Act, it’s illegal for sports competitions to discriminated against a person because of their gender if they are under 12.
But once they become a teenager the rules become different – especially in full contact sports.
Mr Walls disagrees and said the rules around women’s sport need to be changed.
‘The girls should be treated as individual players and if they’re good enough they should be allowed to play.’
Her daughter is currently weighing up her sporting options with keen interest from a range of other local competitions including women’s rugby union and AFL.