Women more than just making up NTL numbers
THE first tap of this year's National Touch League at C.ex Coffs International Stadium took place on International Women's Day and that's fitting.
Fifty-eight of the 123 teams at NTL 2018, which will have its finals played tomorrow, are women's or mixed teams.
The first official touch competition was held in Sydney in 1968. These days women are kicking goals in rugby league and other sports but Touch Football Australia's CEO Steve Mitchell said female touch footballers have been highly celebrated since the start.
"Female touch players and teams have always been regarded equally when it comes to skill and ability, and treated the same," Mitchell said.
"Touch is not about being a men's sport or a women's sport; it's about being a great sport for everyone.
"It's one community for both genders and all ages, and you choose to play in mixed-gender teams."
Kerry Norman, a Touch Football Hall of Famer who has represented Australia 104 times as both a player and coach, and whose son Pete is playing in the Elite 8 tournament in Coffs Harbour for the Queensland Titans, said it was an even playing field back in 1981 when she started playing.
"I definitely feel like the women's game is valued. The men are always cheering on the women, the women cheer on the men, it goes both ways," she said.
"There are no other team sports that have such a highly developed mixed-gender competition.
"The male-female touch community being totally integrated is what attracts so many people to the sport. And it's why you see so many people who've ended up meeting through touch."