League's top stars dazzle Clarence kids
RUGBY LEAGUE: The future rugby league stars of the Clarence Valley were treated to a rare visit from the best players of the game this week as the NRL brought its Road to Regions tour to the North Coast.
Gold Coast Titans winger and former Grafton Ghosts junior, Anthony Don, was joined by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs player Fa'amanu Brown and Sydney Roosters star Isabelle Kelly as the trio visited almost every school in the Clarence Valley.
It was a hectic two-day schedule which culminated in a junior skills development session at Frank McGuren Field with more than 100 of the Valley's rising stars.
For Kelly, who won the female Golden Boot award as the best player in the game, it was a humbling experience.
"I always go and visit my cousins in Tamworth so I love getting out to the country, but coming to Grafton, I have never been here before,” she said.
"It is a great town, and it is just great to be out here and amongst all the kids.”
Kelly works as a part-time NRL development officer on the Central Coast, but she said it was a different experience being a player at the sessions.
"I am pretty lucky that I get to work in the game and be part of the game,” she said.
She said she had noticed a distinct rise in the number of girls at the sessions, with the rise of the NRLW last season having a positive impact at the grassroots.
"I think even today, I have been out at schools and young girls have come up to me and said 'you inspired me to play football',” she said.
"I think some people think girls can't play rugby league once they hit a certain age but that couldn't be further from the truth.
"There are so many more opportunities for women in the game now.
"To be out here meeting all of these kids and hearing what they have to say is such a humbling experience and I am very lucky to have this opportunity.”