Each day this week, for Women in League round we will be profiling different women who make significant contributions to rugby league in the Canberra region.
When it comes to junior league administrators, none are more dedicated than Zara Baker.
Zara volunteers at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos junior club. Officially, she is the club secretary and registrar, but has stepped up and undertaken various other roles when no one else could.
Zara first got involved at the club four years ago, when her son started playing with the Roos. Her daughter Matilda also began playing for the club last year, and is currently in an Under 12’s team.
“My son started in under sixes. I wasn’t involved, my husband was the manager and then it just sort of escalated from there, I guess!” Zara said.
“He became the coach in under sevens, and I started first aiding for him. I then just started asking some more questions about first aid and ended up being asked to take the first aid coordinator role, so I did that for a while.”
“Then a few things happened and our secretary last season stood down, and that’s when I took on the role of secretary, treasurer, registrar, and everything in between. It’s chaotic!” Zara said.
Zara spends most Friday nights out at Freebody Oval in Queanbeyan, setting up fields and turning on lights often for Canberra based clubs as well as her own.
She also allows extra games at Freebody Oval, meaning she has to hang around until they finish or come back later at night to lock everything up and turn the lights off.
Dedicated to the club, Zara says she does it all to keep players in the game and keep the Roos club running.
“If we don’t do it, then they don’t play and we don’t retain them in the game. It’s more of a retention thing, and I would rather help out then just say ‘no not doing that’ when I’m not really doing anything anyway. I just do it.”
Zara has had to make a lot of sacrifices to ensure the club can keep going, including missing out on seeing her two kids play their footy games, but is grateful for the assistance of some others at the club including club president Gary Bergkotte.
“We also didn’t have a canteen manager either this year, so I’ve done that role. It’s been a lot of juggling and it means that I’m not watching my kids play as much as I would like to but it is what it is,” Zara said.
“Our president Gary has been really good and he has been helping me in the canteen every weekend so if the kids are playing at home then I can go watch but I guess you just do it because if I don’t do it, it just doesn’t get done. And we can’t grow the club.”
The club has been growing each year, especially within the female landscape. This season the Queanbeyan Roos have an Under 18 and Under 15 Girls team, with 60 female players registered to the club for 2020.
“They are going really well. I think this year with the Under 18 girls their comp was a bit smaller than what everyone had anticipated with the numbers, but we had thirteen to sixteen 18’s Girls at one stage, but lost a couple to injury. We still have 13 so dropping down to nine was a good move so everyone could play,” Zara said.
“We’ve had a full squad in our Under 15’s Girls, that was one of our first teams to fill up, so good consistent numbers and not too many injuries, and they all seem to be happy which is good.”
The Queanbeyan Roos also have a couple of female coaches involved at the club, something that Zara is proud of.
“It’s nice to see more females getting involved in not just footy. We’ve got a referee and two female coaches; they are going really well. We’ve got one in under 6’s and one in under 9’s.”
Thank you to Zara and to all our junior club administrators for all the hard work you do!