Kaila Rogers’ walk out to the QRL rugby league pitch goes for 800 kilometres; her end of week knock-off is a tank of fuel.
Together members of the central Queensland Capras women’s team travel more than 4,000km to play on weekends
Coach Amanda Ohl says the team’s greatest asset is its heart
The team wants to draw more attention to women’s sport and increase available funding
She’ll finish four days at a civil construction firm in Longreach, fill up, sleep a few hours, then embark on an eight-hour, 800km trek from western Queensland.
As she’s driving, her teammates Annette Brander and Naomi Clayton battle 50 kilometres of congestion as they drive from Caboolture to Brisbane airport where they’ll board a flight.
Their plane will pass over Keisha Baker and Sophie O’Toole as they hurtle up the Bruce Highway from Hervey Bay.
About 300km to the north west, Mackenzie Reid and Mariah Storch are on the road from Blackwater.
They’ve all got with them a maroon and blue Central Queensland Capras jersey, and they’re all headed for Browne Park in Rockhampton.
When they arrive, they’ll shake off the travel, limber up stiff legs and stretch out sore backs, and jog onto the rugby league pitch for the only weekly training session they’ll have together.
Less than 24-hours later, they’ll clash with some of the state’s best rugby league players in the QRL women’s premiership.
Then, 24 hours after that they’ll be back in the saddle hoping to make it home early enough to sleep off the soreness before work on Monday.
All up, these eight players will cover more than 4,000 kilometres in the weekend — and that doesn’t count the metres they’ll run in what’s supposed to be a home game.
This is the reality — and the sacrifice — of being a female sports star in Australia’s most decentralised state.
A whole lot of ticker
If you ask coach Amanda Ohl, her team’s biggest asset isn’t its fitness or its strength or its playing of the ball.
It’s “the heart they have” – and in that department, the caring coach leads by example.
She’s opened her house to one of her players, Reeghyn Beardmore, who’s moved to Rockhampton from Saint George for the eight-week competition.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to have her come up. The commitment these girls have shown just to put this jersey on is amazing and I’m just blessed to be a part of it,” she says.
“You just don’t really understand how much they put into it.
“They’re away from their families and loved ones Friday, Saturday night and possibly Sundays when we go to Brisbane.”
Many of the players won’t sleep in their own beds, but for Kailah Rogers that’s where she dreams of a brighter future for women’s sport.
“Of getting country girls that want to play at the highest level a bit of exposure,” she says.
“It’s tough, mid-season it starts to take its toll. Mondays at work are pretty tough. You don’t really feel too much motivation but you’ve just got to get it done.
“If you’re dedicated to trying to get somewhere in life, that motivates you.
It takes a toll
The Capras women didn’t make the semi-final playoffs this season.
But when the full-time siren sounded at their final game for 2021 — a 56–6 thrashing of the Valkyries — and the Browne Park crowd erupted in a raucous cheer, you would have thought they’d won the competition.
“It’s always good to see all the supporters in the stand … and I really wish we could play more games,” Ms Ohl says.
“It’d be great if we had the money like the men do to give players the jobs and relocate them and put them into houses.
“We’re a much better team than what the points show on the ladder but you just can’t underestimate being away from family and sleeping in your own bed every night.