April Townsend had every reason to be exhausted on Sunday afternoon.
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She had just played the bulk of a 60-minute Western Women's Rugby League (WWRL) match in the searing heat at Dubbo. Plus, she may have still been feeling the effects of celebrating at her wedding just two days earlier.
"I thought it was meant to be only in the twenties," she said of the temperature at full-time.
"I think we need to get women's footy in the winter so we can play when it's supposed to be played."
And so the topic of scheduling the women's game rears its head again.
It's a divisive one, even among WWRL clubs. There are plenty of players and club officials who want the competition moved to winter and made more of a priority while there are others who are firmly against it and want it to stay as is.
There's valid points on both sides.
Those wanting it to remain have seen the success and development of the summer competition already and want women to continue to be able to play rugby union and league tag or netball during the winter.
Some are concerned about volunteers and what support there would be during winter given so many involved in the WWRL are already aligned with senior or juniors clubs in Group 11, Group 10 the Woodbridge Cup or elsewhere.
Those who want to change have seen the growth of the women's game and how it's offering a pathway for girls in our region to go and make a career out of sport. They say anything that can be done to grow that further is a win.
Scheduling in the women's game is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the game in our region. There's already been some preliminary meetings between NSWRL and WWRL clubs and also clubs from Group 11 and Group 10 about how tackle fits in.
But is one of the biggest things we need to consider the health and wellbeing of those players on the park each week?
Concussion and brain injuries in women's sport is becoming more and more of a talking point and is in the spotlight again after a segment during the current affairs program The Project this week.
In that segment, Michael Buckland - the director of the Australian Sports Brain Bank - said he feared this generation of female footballers may be more at risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by repeated impacts to the head. It can't currently be diagnosed before death.
Heather Anderson was an AFLW footballer who died by suicide in November of last year and became the first female athlete to be diagnosed with CTE. She also played rugby league during her career.
"Research shows women have an equal or greater susceptibility to concussion in contact sports, but we don't yet know what that means for their risk of developing CTE," Concussion Leagcy Foundation co-founder Dr. Robert Cantu said earlier this year.
"We urgently need to accelerate research on CTE in women so we can prevent future cases, better understand how CTE impacts their behaviour and cognition, and treat those who develop symptoms."
So what does that mean for the game locally?
The WWRL means a huge amount to the women who play it. Ask the Townsend sisters who have been with the Goannas since the club was founded and they'll tell you that. Members of the Panorama Platypi with multiple premierships to their name will tell you the same. As will players from Lachlan who are making their debut in the competition this season.
One Goannas player had to exit Sunday's match in the second half just so she could breastfeed her baby.
This chance to play rugby league means a huge amount to these girls and women.
Some may want more of a chance to play the game they love but organisers and the game's governing body must do all they can to ensure the very best for these players before making any decision about the future of the competition.
The standard of play in the under 18s WWRL competition this season is something to behold. There's some special players coming through the ranks from the western area and a number have already linked with clubs in Sydney and are destined for the NRLW.
It's easy, and obvious, to think extending the season is the best for those players and the sport in this region. I've thought that myself.
But do we really want to put these teenagers at risk when we don't understand the impact the sport they're playing is having on their brains?
And if there is such uncertainty about women in contact sport, why are we not already acting?
In Sunday's under 18s match at Dubbo there was a small minority of players in headgear. A simple first step would be to make that protection mandatory in all junior grades to help minimise some of the risk.
The opportunities provided for women by rugby league are incredible and it's been special to see the game grow so much in the western area during the past decade.
The thought of juniors playing each weekend on our ovals going on to play State of Origin of for Australia is pretty special and it now does seem achievable. But we need to make sure we're also thinking about these athletes when they're off the field and also once their playing days are over.
That would be real progress.
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