And they want nothing more than to see the Rugby League World Cup come to Wigan Borough in 2013.
Since 2007 Leigh Miners Rangers ARLFC has been amongst the first in the borough to have a girls’ section – with individual teams for the under 12s under 14s and under 16s.
Last year the Twist Lane-based club swelled its ranks even further by adding a Women’s Senior Team. And with an 18-strong pack of dedicated players from all walks of life, they’re hoping for big things in the future.
Coach Stephanie Atherton, 26, is a passionate fan of the game – so much so that she admits to being an ardent fan of the Leigh Centurions AND the Wigan Warriors.
“I first became interested in the game through going to watch the Centurions with my dad,” said Stephanie.
“But it was only when I was about 19 at university that I really started playing.
“When I returned home I approached the club to see if we could start a girls’ section and they said yes straight away. A few years later I thought it would be interesting to see if there were any women who wanted to form a team so I put out the call and I was amazed at how many people responded.
“Now we have completed our first season, which is an amazing achievement in itself.”
The team play real rugby…full on, full contact…and they’ve got the bumps, bruises and scrapes to prove it. But as Stephanie said it is as much about making new friends and learning the team ethos as it is about the physical aspects of the game.
“There’s a great social side to it and it’s a brilliant way to keep fit,” she said. “The gym isn’t for everyone and this gets you out in the open air.”
Stephanie and the team have big plans for the coming season, whether it be against hometown rivals Leigh East or nearby St Pat’s or teams further afield in Chorley, Warrington and Yorkshire, they are in it to win it.
And the girls believe nothing will give their game more of a boost than the Rugby League World Cup coming to the borough in 2013.
The council and its partners have submitted a bid to the Rugby Football League for the tournament to come to Wigan, Leigh and other towns across Greater Manchester.
“We’re backing the bid!” said Stephanie. “It will raise the profile of the game and of our borough as part of Rugby League’s heartland.”
Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith said: “It’s really important to us that the grass roots clubs and players are behind our bid to host the world cup. Part of the bid process will be to create a legacy for the game in our borough that will continue to encourage local teams.
“Teams like Leigh Miners Rangers are the life-blood of the game in our borough and we must do everything we can to support them.
“It shows the love of this great game is something we all share which is why the Rugby League World Cup 2013 belongs in Wigan Borough.”
For more information on how to support Wigan Borough’s Back The Bid campaign visit Rugby World Cup Bid or ‘like’ our Facebook page – Back the Bid 2013 (external link)
Find out more about Leigh Miners Rangers Women and Girls Sections by contacting Stephanie Atherton on 07878 285072 or Mark Jones on 07724 227020.