Winning the Women’s Super League Grand Final one day to flying across the world the next, Caitlin Beevers is not your normal 18-year-old, writes Ella Jerman.
Most celebrate their 18th birthday by visiting their first nightclub, or by sharing a dinner with family and friends, but for Beevers, it was all about helping Leeds Rhinos secure victory over Castleford Tigers to secure their first-ever Betfred Women’s Super League title in the first-ever women’s game to be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
But there was no time for celebrations. If winning the title wasn’t exciting enough, Beevers travelled to her hotel in Manchester straight after the game, all to make sure she was ready for her morning flight to Australia, where she played at the World Cup 9s with England.
And fast-forward two weeks and Beevers is preparing to fly back across the Pacific for England women’s first-ever rugby league tour of Papua New Guinea.
Only 18, Beevers is trailblazing in rugby league in every sense, the youngster also having already become the first woman to referee a rugby league game at Wembley Stadium last year.
It is a relentless schedule for the 18-year-old, who somehow manages to juggle her sport science studies at Leeds City College alongside, but it’s also a schedule she feels honoured to have, as she attempts to become the next trailblazer in women’s rugby league.
“Most people go out drinking on their 18th but mine was totally different,” said Beevers.
“Not many people can say they’ve won a Grand Final and flown to Australia on their 18th birthday.
“I feel so lucky to be involved in the first-ever women’s rugby super league game to be broadcast on Sky. It’s a massive step in the right direction.
“I’ve always said the women’s game needs more coverage. I’ve been playing since I was six years old and the only people I ever had to look up to were the men on television. As a female, that’s just not the same.
“It’s now easier for young women to do that and I am delighted to be a part of this new generation.”
What an unreal experience to play in my first World Cup in the Australian 9s tournament. Next stop Papua New Guinea😆 https://t.co/v0I2xsp2Zs— Caitlin Beevers (@CaitlinBeevers1) October 21, 2019
As women’s sport continues to gain momentum, there is no doubt the tide is turning for female rugby league players, who will receive the same participation fees as their male counterparts for the first time at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which is being held in England.
And while Beevers is thrilled with the progress being made, she knows there is so much further to go, considering most of her teammates are still having to juggle their sporting careers with motherhood, full-time jobs - or both.
“I hope going full-time will be a probability for me one day,” added Beevers.
“I’d like to think we’d go full-time before the World Cup, but to be honest I don’t think we’re at that point yet.
“Juggling sport with college is hard, but it’s nothing compared to some of the other girls who have to get time off work to come on our tours. It just shows how much dedicated each player has to the game and how far we want it to grow.
“I’m hoping we will all be playing full-time within the next five years. As much as we think our sport is growing, we’ve still got so far to go.”