St John’s triumph in Schoolgirls’ Challenge
IT WAS a cross-town rivalry like no other, when Roma's most promising young female athletes ran out on to the field for the grand final of the inaugural Outback Secondary Schoolgirls Challenge.
After weeks of hard-fought matches against girls from across the west, it was St John's who ultimately emerged victorious in both age groups on Friday afternoon, with their under-14s winning against Roma State College 38-8, and the under-17s scoring an overtime try to win 34-26.
The victory was sweet for St John's, who at the start of the competition never thought they would have won against the formidable RSC, who had been top of the ladder all season.
"Thank you to everyone who has put this carnival together, especially to our girls," St John's U17 captain Beth Edwards said in her post-game speech.
"The majority of our team had never played before, and we just came together, trained hard, and worked hard."
Edwards was also named player of the final, and in a bittersweet ending, the win was her last with the school.
"I'm feeling really good right now," she said.
"I actually graduated today, so this is a good way to finish the day, and the final game for St John's.
Of course, Edwards couldn't have done it without her teammates, and for the final, the ranks were bolstered by two dedicated players from Cunnamulla.
Poppy Collins and Abbey Pender travelled five hours just to play one last game in the Schoolgirls Challenge.
"I feel so happy that the girls have won, because I have heard some really good news about them," Collins said.
"And I'm just so happy that we got to be a part of their team when they did win the grand final."
During this carnival, the pair had originally joined the Charleville State High School side, but jumped at the chance to play for St John's when the opportunity came knocking.
"There are heaps of girls playing footy in Cunnamulla," Collins said.
"What we loved about this carnival is that we got to meet new people and play the game we love.
"Football is live for us, I guess; especially when we've got to travel five hours away just to play - it obviously says something about how much we love it."
Players and organisers are hopeful the carnival can run again in the future, having proven its popularity among young women from Taroom, all the way out to Cunnamulla.
Players of the Outback Secondary Schoolgirls Challenge grand final were:
Roma State College U14
St John's U14
•Maya Jackson (player of the final)
Roma State College U17
St John's U17