Every sport started somewhere and when it comes to women's rugby league, one woman in particular was the driving force who made it all possible. Now, Bay of Plenty Rugby League is honouring her with an exciting new tournament.
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Before there was the Women's NRL or the Kiwi Ferns, women with rugby league ambitions had to fight for opportunities to play.
It was Tuakau's Christine Panapa MNZM who fought harder than most, helping to establish New Zealand's Women's Rugby League and supporting the Kiwi Ferns into national and international tournaments.
So it is fitting that Bay of Plenty District Rugby League has chosen to name the inaugural Bay of Plenty Women's Nines tournament after the woman who made it all possible.
The Kiwi Ferns were established in 1995 and Panapa said the early days of women's rugby league were tough times as they fought to prove they belonged.
"There was a group trying to get things started and I could see they needed some help so I jumped in and away we went. Those first five years were really tough because we were just a small band of ladies and we had to find all our own money and do all our own fundraising for every overseas tour we did.
"We had to prove to New Zealand Rugby League that we, as women, could do this. We had to fight to become an affiliate, we had to fight to get a constitution and we literally had to just get out there and do the work."
She spent last weekend in Australia watching the Māori All Stars Women take on the Indigenous All Stars and said it was special to see how far the women's game had come.
"To see the NRL get in behind the rugby league of our women is just awesome. It is emotional, definitely, because back in the day the women had to put their hands in their own pockets to play. Now, they don't have to," Panapa said.
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This weekend, the Warriors host the Tigers in an NRL preseason match at Rotorua International Stadium but before that kicks off at 2pm on Sunday, there is a weekend-long celebration of rugby league on the agenda.
As well as the men's and women's Bay of Plenty Nines tournaments on Saturday and Sunday, there will be Mini Mod games and the Sky Sport Rugby League Roadshow during which children have the opportunity to meet and train with their heroes.
Panapa said she was "over the moon" to have the women's tournament named after her.
"I was overwhelmed, it's such a lovely gesture. It's not about me, it's all the people who have a passion for the game."
Bay of Plenty District Rugby League secretary Jenny Nahu said the organisation was pleased to provide another opportunity for women to play as well as honour a legend of the sport.
"She is such a lovely lady and she worked so hard for women's rugby league. The sport has Christine Panapa to thank for breaking down the barriers.
"There's heaps happening for the kids as well, it's going to be like a festival all weekend."
Meanwhile, last year's first and second place finishers in the Bay of Plenty Men's Nines, Taupō and Pacific, will not be in attendance, leaving the door wide open for others to contest the McLeod Cup, named in memory of the late Peter McLeod - a man who played integral roles in both the creation of the Auckland Warriors and the success of Rotorua International Stadium.
Ngongotahā head coach Paul Nahu said, above all else, the preseason tournament was an opportunity to see what he was working with this year.
"We're really looking forward to it, they're pretty eager to have a run. I just look at it to see where guys are, there skill levels, some fitness stuff, their techniques and some different combinations - just little things, trying to identify where we're at.
"It's looking very promising this year. We have a nice mix of more mature and experienced guys and even some of the younger guys have a lot of experience now. Then there's some other young ones who have come along, it's a good mix, we just need to see how it gels together.
"The Nines is pretty hectic, pretty full-on, but we'll get some stuff out of it."