FINALS BOUND: Seagulls under-14 players (from back left) Taylor Fitzgerald, Jasmine Miller, Kelsey Wadsworth, Courtney Whittaker, Amy Ward, Raychal McQuilty, Ella Webb, Ashley Taylor, Ebony-Rose Doherty, Skye Girard, Lakeyta Feste, Mikaela Joyce and coach Michael Hutchinson are looking forward to this weekend's grand final against Caboolture Gold.
FINALS BOUND: Seagulls under-14 players (from back left) Taylor Fitzgerald, Jasmine Miller, Kelsey Wadsworth, Courtney Whittaker, Amy Ward, Raychal McQuilty, Ella Webb, Ashley Taylor, Ebony-Rose Doherty, Skye Girard, Lakeyta Feste, Mikaela Joyce and coach Michael Hutchinson are looking forward to this weekend's grand final against Caboolture Gold. Valerie Horton

How the Seagulls' juniors girls team had to fight for every success

IT STARTED as an idea.

"It was an idea a few of us had to get the girls games in one of the best competitions available,” Hervey Bay Seagulls junior girls coach Michael Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has been a major part of junior female rugby league's recent growth in Hervey Bay.

From pushing Wide Bay girls' rugby league teams and hosting numerous camps, to driving the establishment and nurturing the untapped talent of junior female footballers, Hutchinson has been there.

The Seagulls fielded teams in the Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League's under-14 and U16 girls competitions this year.

The plan was to play in the best competition within a reasonable distance, which the Sunshine Coast competition provided.

The only catch was the girls played Friday nights, and about 80% of those games were two-and-a-half hours down the Bruce Hwy. It meant major monetary and time sacrifices by parents, who had to complete the long journeys on Queensland's most notorious road, and several early finishes at their respective schools.

"We had two home games but for the other eight or nine games we were travelling every Friday,” Hutchinson said.

"Some of them added up to a six-hour round trip.

"It's been a long journey but they've put in a lot of effort, and they deserve every success.”

The U14s will play in the grand final this Saturday.

Hervey Bay finished second on the eight-team ladder with seven wins from 10 games, five points behind Caboolture Gold.

The girls were forced to battle through extra time in the preliminary final against Noosa Pirates.

"It was 18-all so they had to play five minutes each way,” Hutchinson said.

"The girls managed to score another 18 points.”

It sets up a date with the undefeated Caboolture Gold, who has beaten the Bay three times this year.

That won't trouble the young Seagulls, as they eye a memorable end to their first season in Saturday's grand final at Caboolture.

The U16s were unlucky not to progress.

They also finished second, with six wins from eight games, but were pipped 22-18 by South Burnett Eagles.

Regardless of either result, it is a successful year according to Hutchinson.

"It's rewarding,” he said. "The trust and faith we had in the girls has paid off.

"They don't all go to the same school but when they come here, they're all Seagulls.”

As far as the future is concerned, the Seagulls will play in whichever competition provides players the best opportunity to succeed.

"As far as now is concerned, we just want to the girls to go out there and enjoy it,” he said.

"I'd imagine if there's a higher standard competition closer to home we'd play that, but that all depends on what's available at the time.”

Kick-off is at 11.40am.



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