JODIE Cunningham may soon have to pack away her drum – the drum she banged for women’s rugby league.
Because the advances in sport in terms of participation levels and standards have been tremendous.
And the St Helens ace is hoping to help England take another step in the right direction, a win over France ahead of a World Cup elimination.
Jodie has long been a supporter of women’s football but the reception used to be less enthusiastic than it is now when Craig Richards’ team share the stage in Warrington with Shaun Wane’s men’s team.
She recalled: “It was almost like nobody was listening. People didn’t quite see the vision.
“Five or ten years ago you wouldn’t have talked about women’s and girls’ rugby league. Nobody would talk to me about it.
“I’ve been banging the drum for many years and I would tell anyone who listens to this how brilliant it is and what potential it has.
“And the progress we’ve made over the past few years has been tremendous. People are starting to see it, so I don’t have to bang the drum anymore.
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“Playing at Warrington will be a great experience and the fact that it’s a double-header will also draw more attention to the sport.
“It’s huge for us personally, but every time we get opportunities like this it’s about making sure we see the bigger picture too.
“And the team is better now than last year when we beat France. I sulked for a few days when the World Cup was postponed, but we’re a year more mature and the squad is more competitive.
“We believe that we are better than ever.”
Jodie spoke to more than 60 people at a women’s and girls’ training session at amateur club Ashton Bears, funded with £24,176 of the National Lottery RLWC2021 CreatedBy.
She started her women’s and girls’ section with a handful of U14s in 2017 and now has four teams and 85 active players.
“Playing this sport is life changing for young girls and things like this – as well as talking about future growth in the years to come – are really exciting. We’ve already seen standards rise.”
*THE National Lottery is an official partner of this year’s Rugby League World Cup. The partnership includes National Lottery players supporting some of the hardest hit and most disadvantaged communities across England with £750,000 in vital financial support through the RLWC2021 CreatedBy Grants scheme.
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