Two up-and-coming Sapphire Coast footballers have enjoyed their first taste of playing on a national stage.
Tamika Millard of Pambula and Jordan Martin of Eden are playing in the NRL’s under 18 competitions for women and men respectively, both with the Canberra Raiders.
Tamika, 16, said the weekend’s opening game in the Tarsha Gale Cup was “really” good” even if the side was “a little rusty” first up.
“There are a couple of things to work on, but we played well as a team,” she said on Tuesday.
The final scoreline was 48-10 in favour of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but of those 10 points, Tamika laid claim to six after scoring a try and then converting it.
The Tarsha Gale Cup is the NRL’s nine-a-side competition for women under 18. The season comprises nine round games before finals.
It’s a similar story for the under 18 men’s equivalent, the SG Ball, in which Jordan had a run-on start for Canberra on Sunday.
Both competitions are initial stepping stones on a path towards NRL representation.
It’s a quick game with lots of contact and it’s lots of fun.Tamika Millard
Despite her young age, Tamika has already sampled several of the avenues open to females into football, including the past six years playing league and league-tag with the Eden Tigers and Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs, then full-contact union with the Brumbies before switching to the rugby league nines.
She said she found it relatively easy to switch codes and is enjoying the latest challenge.
“Of all of those I’m probably preferring the nine-a-side game,” she said.
“It’s a quick game with lots of contact and it’s lots of fun.”
From her home in Pambula, Tamika travels to Canberra for training on Tuesday and Thursday nights before game weekends likely to be shared between Canberra and Sydney. This weekend’s second round game will be against the Penrith Panthers, reigning premiers from the competition’s inaugural season in 2017.
Meanwhile, Jordan had a great start to his SG Ball appearances, helping his Raiders teammates to a 48-12 win over South Sydney.
“It went pretty good and we won fairly well.” Jordan said. “There’s just a few little things to work on at training this week.”