Bec Young has inspired the next generation of women to grow up wanting to play Rugby League.
A pioneer of women's rugby league in Newcastle, Young, has been a forerunner in paving the way for girls in the region to pursue a career in our beloved game.
Ahead of Women in League Round, the league will pay its due diligence and show its admiration for all the women involved in every aspect of the game.
Looking back only a few years ago, rugby league for women in Newcastle was a pipe dream, with little to no avenues for young women to chase their ambitions and reach an elite level.
While Young had an illustrious career in rugby union, winning a World Cup in the code, she always dreamed of being able to play the game she loved in her hometown.
"I started playing through the Aboriginal Knockouts, but there was no rugby league at all for girls in Newcastle," Young said.
"We started a Newcastle team for young girls to be able to play footy, there wasn't that choice up here, but we had a lot of young girls coming through the pathways.
"We played out at Maitland Pickers, and a lot has changed in the women's competition, and for me, the big changes have been the recognition to women and how (big) the exposure has become, and now it's the same game as the guys."
The 37-year-old, who has spent nine seasons playing for Newcastle, has become an influential figure in women's league.
She’s represented her state and country.
Young played for New South Wales for the first time in 2011 and became Jillaroo #117, playing in two World Cup-winning sides in 2013 and 2017, respectively.
She captained the Prime Ministers XIII in last year's tour of Papua New Guinea but a lot of work had to be done to get the women's game to the level it’s at.
He hasn’t been easy.
"We (used) to have to pay for everything, so financially we didn't have any support, we had to go around and knock on doors for sponsorship," Young continued.
"For the Australian team, we used to have to stay in bunk bed scenarios where it was like you were at school camp, and now we get to stay at places like Crown Plaza, and I know it's come from the hard work people have put in, and women who have paved the way for the women's game and the promotion of the game."
Young also recounted a moving story about being presented her Australian jersey by a league great.
"I debut for the Jillaroos in 2011, we went to Samoa for a test match, and Gordon Tallis presented our jerseys to us, and we never used to have the coat of arms on our jerseys.
"That was something he lobbied for us (to get) as we were playing for our country and we didn't have the coat of arms.
"That was a big push to see someone like that, who I admired in the game, to present our jerseys and then say hang on, you guys aren't playing in these, you need special jerseys to play for your country, and that was a massive moment in my career."
The NRL established the Women's competition in 2018, with four inaugural teams making history and becoming the first to introduce the NRLW league.
The Brisbane Broncos, New Zealand Warriors, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons contested the first season.
Young is now a part of the Roosters squad, but she had to bide her time to realise her dream of playing in the elite competition.
"I missed out last year and was told they were looking to the future and that I wasn't a part of that for them, seeing how the competition went, clubs realised you need to have girls playing good footy now, and the NRL is an elite level, high-quality football week in, week out,” she said.
"Playing NRLW I couldn't imagine anything better, I'm extremely humbled to be able to play on that national level.
"I've played in a World Cup in rugby union, two World Cup's for rugby league, captained the Indigenous All-Stars, New South Wales and the Jillaroos in the Prime Ministers XIII team last year, I feel like I've done so much in the game and just so happy with where I am, and to get an NRLW contract this year has been unbelievable, I've worked really hard."
Young's drive and determination to reach the top, while being an innovator for the game has built a strong base for young girls to, not only be inspired by her career, but also follow in her footsteps and create their own opportunities.
The women's game in the region is now at an all-time high, due to the work of Young and many others.
"Super honoured, super proud of it, obviously I went to that school growing up and to be able to go back there and show a small school you can be whatever you want to be," Young said.
"We love the game just as much and play the game just as hard."