World News – UA – Rookie from St George Illawarra is changing the way men in his home country view female athletes


St George Illawarra’s Dragons rookie Elsie Albert considers herself lucky not to have had litter thrown at her by fans while playing rugby in her home country of Papua -New Guinea

The 24-year-old is the first local player in the rugby-mad nation to be picked up by an NRLW squad, and is part of the squad nominated for the season opener against the Sydney Roosters

But it hasn’t been an easy journey for Albert, who started out as a boxer and started playing the sport only two years ago, when she left home to study at university.

Growing up in the rugby region, culture and religion of PNG’s rugged highlands, it was unthinkable for girls and women to play rugby league

« People, especially men, would say girls aren’t supposed to play rugby, » Albert told the ABC

« ‘You’re just wasting your time ladies Get married and have babies and stay home' »

But Elsie Albert said that the women who came before her, whom she calls the « pioneers », began to prove them wrong

« They were the ones who were ridiculed by the men when they played on the field They threw, like coke bottles or water bottles on the field, » she said

Albert said that everything changed last year when the women’s national team, the PNG Orchids, played two tests against England at home

As captain, Albert led the Orchids by claiming the first-ever Women’s Test Match victory in PNG

She said the game has helped change mentalities in the country, the only place in the world where rugby league is the national sport

« Me standing on the ground and I could hear men also say ‘go orchids’ It meant a lot, » said Albert

« I’m happy to be part of this change to change your mind, change your perspective, change the way men think about women, » she said

Albert is one of the many new players chosen by the Dragons, who were the finalists last year, and many are urged to follow through this season

She will be joined by former prop and Jillaroos captain, Stephanie Hancock, who has become one of her good friends

« We have a special relationship on the pitch She plays on the left, I play on the right and we are the props, and she is my role model, » said Albert

A generation of young rugby league players are developing their skills earlier, preparing them for a growing national women’s competition

« She wanted me to feel welcome, being new to the LNRL scene and I’m just grateful that she is accompanying me to the Dragons »

« There is no other way to describe Elsie than as an undisputed pioneer of women’s sport in Papua New Guinea, » he said.

« She’s had a lot of hurdles and hurdles thrown over the years, but now she can safely say that she is the first Papua New Guinea to get an NRLW contract »

Elsie Albert’s hard knocks earned her the nickname « Jukebox » at the 9th World Cup last year, and was named the South Logan Magpies MVP with whom she played this year

His signing does not go unnoticed in PNG, where it is predicted that the Dragons will gain new and passionate supporters as a result

« Elsie is an exceptional leader and plays with passion She innovates all the time, doing very well for herself, but also setting benchmarks for the women’s rugby league in PNG, » said Ruth Waram, president of PNG Orchids

Albert is well aware of the responsibilities she now takes on, as a role model for other girls and women in PNG

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« People will throw negative comments here and everywhere, saying this is not a women’s sport, that you are not supposed to play this, but look at me, I am the perfect example », said she declared

« My advice would be if you want to play rugby just grab a ball, join a PNG team and pass the ball Work hard and stay dedicated and you will see the benefits »

But she admits to being a little overwhelmed by the situation, having grown up in a remote part of PNG watching NRL stars like Jonathon Thurston and Greg Inglis

« I can’t understand this feeling that I can play in the same arena they played It’s overwhelming I’m so excited, » Albert said

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and BBC World Service which is copyrighted and may not be reproduced

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Rugby League, St George Illawarra Dragons, NRL Women’s, Rugby Football

World News – AU – This St George Illawarra rookie is changing the way his country’s men ‘origin see female athletes



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