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Girls just want to have fun… in sport

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Girls Day Out founder Kirsten Ansell is blown away by the success of the much-loved local women in sport initiative.

As the event heads into its third year, and fourth edition, the diligent organiser has roped in a plethora of homegrown and visiting stars to again oversee the eager youngsters, who are expected to converge on Foreshore Park and Nobbys Beach on Saturday 21 January.

There, the participants – aged five to 16 – will learn new skills in a variety of mini clinics, featuring rugby league, union, football, netball, AFL, surfing and surf lifesaving.

Girls Day Out
Hunter Wildfires player Kayla Waldron, Newcastle Knights’ Jayme Fressard and Newcastle Jets midfielder Cassidy Davis attended the 2022 Girls Day Out, lending a hand to junior athletes like Eden Wilson (13), Kyah Day-Ridley (5) and Charlotte MacNeill (11). Photo: Peter Stoop

“It’s grown a lot since its inception,” Ansell told the Newcastle Weekly.

“And, that’s really, really exciting.

“When we kicked it all off, we covered league, union, football, netball and surfing, with 200 girls in attendance.

“On that occasion, football and surfing sold out.

“Now, we’ve added AFL and surf lifesaving.

“When tickets recently went on sale, surfing sold out in 45 minutes and we had to put on another session for netball.

“Football and surf lifesaving are fully-booked, too, while the other sports are close to filling as well.

“This time around, we’re expecting 400 youngsters, so the event’s doubled in size.

“We’re thrilled it’s become very popular.

“In fact, you’ve got little girls wanting to return the following week – the feedback’s great.

“It’s stirring to see them just get in, sample a taste of a sport and have fun with professional athletes.

“They (the participants) soon realise the ‘stars’ are just normal people like you and I, which is the whole purpose behind the program.

“By taking part in Girls Day Out – linking up with high-profile athletes, having a go at something new and seeing those who have achieved their goals through hard work and determination first-hand, it teaches them they can do it, too.

“You don’t have to be a superhero to be a professional sportstar.”

Hunter-based Wallaroo Layne Morgan.

Lending their assistance in 2023 are Newcastle Knights’ NRLW quartet Caitlan Johnston, Yasmin Clydsdale, Kayla Romaniuk, Bree Chester and Sydney Roosters’ Jayme Fressard (league); Wallaroo Layne Morgan and NSW Waratahs’ Charlie Norton (union); Newcastle Jets Teigan and Lauren Allen, along with members of Newcastle Olympic (football); Sam Poolman and her Aspire team as well as Hunter Netball (netball); local legend Philippa Anderson (surfing); Sydney Swan Brenna Tarrant, ex-Sydney Giant Sarah Halvorsen, who now plays for Newcastle City) and Lizzie Montgomery (Swans Academy); and former Coolangatta Gold competitor Laura Soars (surf lifesaving).

“It’s terrific to have such talented athletes on board supporting us,” Ansell said.

“I think a lot of girls go to sports matches and watch the players from the sideline or grab a quick autograph.

“But, they don’t actually get to spend time with the athletes.

“Our program provides an opportunity to do that.

“They can throw the footy or kick a ball in an easy-going, fun environment.

“And, working alongside Hunter-based professionals will inspire the next generation.

“If we have a girl, who goes on to play in the NRLW or AFLW after attending our event, that would be fabulous.

“However, it’s not just about sport.

“It is also about empowerment, along with healthy bodies and minds.

“Girls Day Out teaches our young ones that their dreams are possible and achievable – whether that’s to play professional sport or to be anything they wish to be, because they are face-to-face with women who’ve made it happen.

“As well, by trying something new, you open up so many more doors.

“I’d like to thank our sponsors for their support – without it, we wouldn’t be able to host Girls Day Out.”

Moving forward, Ansell would love to welcome hockey, volleyball and softball to the fold, too.

“That’s the goal down the track,” she said.

“But, we’re always open for sports to approach us.

“Even though funding is tight, and it’s a lot of work behind the scenes, it’s very rewarding when it all comes together – and you see the smiles on everyone’s faces.”

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