Credit: Tom Campbell
Set to embark on her 25th year of playing rugby league, it’s fair to say Willagee Bears stalwart Danielle Parker has experienced the highs and lows the sport has to offer in Western Australia.
Since making her Willagee debut in 1995, Parker has accomplished things many others could only dream of, with her inclusion in the Jillaroos’ 2000 World Cup squad a notable high.=
It should come as no surprise to anyone then that NRL WA has decided to acknowledge Parker’s commitment to the game by introducing a cup in her honour – the Danielle Parker Cup – an U18’s 9-a side girl’s tournament.
Running for nine weeks between February – April 2019, Parker hopes the tournament will have the same success as the Pirates Youth Cup – the U18’s boy’s equivalent.
“Seeing what’s happened with the Pirates boys, lots of them have been able to get opportunities out of it,” she said.
“Having the U18’s for the girls will hopefully do the same thing and help the girls get looked at.”
Parker also hopes the cup will prevent WA losing their best female players to other codes and states – an issue close to her heart with daughter Shanice relocating East to represent the Australian Women’s Sevens team.
“This cup coming in means a bigger and brighter future for next season and we’ll be able to keep that age group in our game still instead of losing them to other codes,” she said.
Having grown up in a rugby league-oriented family, Parker was introduced to the game at a young age but says its inclusivity and strong community focus are the major reasons as to why she is still playing the sport today.
“I grew up around rugby league with my parents being involved,” she said.
“When I first started, it was a sport that opened its arms to female participation.
“It’s a good community, it’s the best code to allow anybody from any background into the game I think it’s very welcoming.”
Above all, Parker sees the cup’s introduction as a huge step forward for the women’s game in WA.
“For me, even though it’s my name, it’s a step up for everybody who’s put in the hard work over the years to try and get league back up and running and moving forward,” she said.
“It’s a good stepping stone for moving forward for the women in WA.”
For more information about the 2019 Danielle Parker Cup, please contact the NRL WA offices on 9228 9275 or email email@example.com