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By Kylie Stevens
THIS Friday night marks the start of a new era for Canley Vale-Lansvale Rugby League Club.
It's first ever A-grade women's team - the Canley Vale Kookas - will make their competitive debut when they kick off against Sydney Bulls at The Crest Oval in Bass Hill this Friday night.
They will play the curtain raiser to the men's Jim Beam Cup clash between The Bulls and Cabramatta Two Blues.
Sponsored by Richards on the Park, the Kookas are one of four teams that will battle it out in the A grade inter district metropolitan women's David Sproule Shield competition where they are joined by the Bulls, Newtown Jetettes and Redfern All Blacks.
The goal for the competition is to eventually have women's teams from all NRL districts represented.
The Kookas have an under 13-14s girls team in the Parramatta Junior Rugby League competition, as do Fairfield Patricians Brothers, Greysatnes and Canley Dragons.
Kookas club president Noel Clarke predicts that women's rugby league will only get bigger and better in the Fairfield district.
"It's very early days but I think it is fantastic that girls have the opportunity to play rugby league," Clarke said.
"In the past, we've had a number of girls play in our junior teams, but they have to stop at under 12s. Times are changing where women are now getting much more involved in the sport from coaching to managing teams to playing and we all love the idea."
The Kookas had enough girls for the 15-16s side but the Parramatta Junior Rugby League Association didn't get enough teams for a competition.
It's 18 woman A grade has been training hard for the past four weeks and has had a few successful pre-season hit-outs, while the under 13-14s side is coached by A grade captain Charmain Heta and has already had a pre-season win against Fairfield Pats.
"They are all very keen and ready to go," Clarke said. He is confident that more teams will be formed next year, not only from the Kookas but also other clubs.
The club is appealing for $120,000 in sponsorships for night lights to play home games at night next season.
Details Noel Clarke 9757 4404
Wednesday 11th May 2005