29 July 2023

The Canberra Raiders NRLW side prepare to make history with their first home game

| Tim Gavel
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The Raiders NRLW side running onto the field in their first game of the season.

The Raiders NRLW side running onto the field in their first game of the season. Photo: Raiders Facebook.

In 1982, when the Raiders men’s team played their first home game at Seiffert Oval in the NSWRL, 6769 people were in attendance.

It heralded the culmination of years of hard work to gain entry into the predominantly Sydney-based competition.

Today (29 July), the Raiders NRLW side is hoping to attract a bigger crowd than the one that turned out at Seiffert in 1982. They will be taking on the Roosters in a double header with the Raiders NRL team facing the Newcastle Knights.

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The game also coincides with the Women in League round.

There is plenty to celebrate, including the way the Raiders as a club has embraced the women’s program. On Saturday, the NRL team will wear the same team kit as the women with the names of the corresponding Raiders NRLW player embroidered onto the chest of their jumpers. And there will be two Viking claps. The first will be when the women run out against the Roosters, the second will occur when the Raiders NRL side comes onto the field for the game against Newcastle.

Albert Hopoate and Sebastian Kris in the kit for Saturday's double header that matches the NRLW kit.

Albert Hopoate and Sebastian Kris in the kit for Saturday’s double header, which matches the NRLW kit. Photo: Raiders Facebook.

Sports Minister Yvette Berry and former Australian player Nicole Pollard-Fleming will be blowing the ceremonial horn.

For Nicole, it’s significant in a number of ways. She says, “It’s the Women in League round, it’s the Raiders NRLW first home game, and it’s great to be part of it. It’s huge.”

When Nicole was selected to play for Australia in 2001, a year after taking up the sport following her move to Canberra from Nimitabel for study, it was very much an amateur sport.

Nicole Pollard-Fleming with the Raiders next generation, the Valkyrie Academy.

Former Jillaroo Nicole Pollard-Fleming (centre back) with the Raiders next generation, the Valkyrie Academy. Photo: Supplied.

Nicole remembers, “We had to raise funds by selling chocolate frogs outside Woolworths at Cooma. This was to gain funds to pay for airfares and accommodation to get to Auckland to play for Australia in the test against New Zealand.”

“It has taken a while for the women’s game to grow. This includes acceptance of women playing rugby league. And the growth of the women’s game has accelerated in the past three years, and there are now developed pathways.”

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Nicole remains involved in the game she loves in a range of coaching roles.

She sees today as a significant moment for women’s rugby league in Canberra – a moment made possible through the efforts of those early trailblazers like her.

The NRL Raiders v Knights / NRLW Raiders v Roosters game takes place on Saturday 29 July at the GIO Stadium Canberra. Gates open at 12:20 pm and kick-off is at 12:45 pm (note – five minutes earlier than originally scheduled). Find out more on the GIO Stadium website.

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Lauren Miller6:55 am 29 Jul 23

Sad to be out of town this weekend. Please keep promoting when the team is playing!

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