This year’s Newcastle Knights intake of junior ball kids is a special one.
The Knights has recruited its first junior ball girl in the Club’s history.
11-year-old, Katelyn Lockwood will join the training program next year and is looking to add to her already impressive rugby league career.
The young Newcastle Knights Member has played with the Morpeth Bulls for five years and is a valuable member of the undefeated Morpeth Public School Knights Knockout side.
To qualify for the position the lucky candidates have shown loyalty as a Newcastle Knights Member and a passion and love for the game.
“She just loves football so much and being involved and playing the game,” her mum Lainie said.
Katelyn started playing for the Morpeth Bulls in under sevens after she persuaded her parents to join her up.
She now lives for the game and says just because she’s the only girl, doesn’t mean she gets treated any differently.
“Her team treats her like one of the boys. She has never been treated like she’s any different because she’s a girl,” Lainie said.
Her selection in the junior ball kid program is even more important for Katelyn because the rules of junior league state girls can’t play beyond under12s.
So her involvement in the ball kid program is a way Katelyn will play her part for the Newcastle Knights in 2014 as a committed member while still continuing to enjoy a close connection with the game.
“It's a great opportunity for Katelyn to stay involved in the game due to the fact girls have to stop playing after the age of 12, unless it's in a specific female competition,” Newcastle Knights community development manager, Matt Lantry said.
“Katelyn has been a tremendous player for the Morpeth Bulls and Morpeth Public School,” he praised.
Both her parents are pleased about her selection.
“I’m very proud of what she’s achieved in her rugby league career, and she’s done it all off her own back,” her dad Les said.
She deserves it, she’s put in so much effort over the years in football for her club and the school,” Lainie added.
Katelyn said she was excited to learn she was included in the program.
“I like that I’ll be more involved in football and that I will get to go with the players to games,” she said.
Newcastle Knights Member, Joe Lumsden was also thrilled to be selected as a junior ball kid.
The last year has seen its challenges for the 12-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“When I play footy, I feel like a normal kid,” Joe said.
“I love the Knights and I look up to the players and hope that I will be like them one day.”
Knights Members Reece Neeves and William Taylor have also been chosen as new recruits.
12-year-old Reece is a massive league and Knights fan and was part of the state champion schoolboy rugby league side.
William plays for Wests and said he has aspired to be a ball kid since he started playing the game.
The role will see the junior ball kids travel to the Knights Harold Matthews and SG Ball matches between January and May and entails many early morning bus trips throughout the Hunter and Sydney regions.
By becoming a junior ball kid, the participants are completing the first of a three-step ball kid process that takes 3-4 years.
The important job requires a willingness to learn and a high level of commitment.
“Becoming a Knights ball kid provides you with the best seats in the house. The lucky four selected will start with the junior teams where they learn and are provided with a greater understanding of the game," Newcastle Knights community development manager, Matt Lantry said.
The view over the next 3 to 4 years is for the ball kids to be leading the team out in front of 30,000 fans at an NRL match and walking the sideline watching their heroes,” he said.