Macarthur teens aim to follow in footsteps of first female NRL referee

Belinda Sharpe etched her name in sport history when she became the NRL's first female referee last night.

Now, three Macarthur teenagers hope to join her at the top.

Chloe Gerrard and Amanda Dawson, both 14, and Eliza Kelly, 15, referee each week in the Group 6 Junior Rugby League competition.

Chloe and Amanda joined at the start of the 2019 season while Eliza is in her third year as an official.

Chloe said she was inspired to see Sharpe officiate the Brisbane Broncos versus Canterbury Bulldogs game at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

"I've been wanting Belinda to get her chance all year," the Harrington Park teen said.

"She shows that if you're capable, you can get to the NRL."

Belinda Sharpe referees the Brisbane Broncos versus Canterbury Bulldogs NRL game at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Belinda Sharpe referees the Brisbane Broncos versus Canterbury Bulldogs NRL game at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Chloe, Amanda and Eliza were all drawn to refereeing through family.

Their brothers all played rugby league and the trio would go to matches to support them.

Chloe - who also plays league tag, said she decided to one day give refereeing a go.

"Our club [Mount Annan] told us that we had a shortage of referees," she said.

"I thought that it could be fun."

"She [Belinda Sharpe] shows that if you're capable, you can get to the NRL."

Chloe Gerrard

Amanda, of Appin, said she had supported her brother Michael at rugby league matches "since I was in a pram".

"I have been around footy my whole life," she said.

"When Michael stopped playing, I decided to referee because it was something to do on a weekend."

Amanda said refereeing had its challenge - including ignoring abuse from the stands.

"But you don't pay attention to the crowd, you don't really hear anything outside of the game," she said.

Eliza, of Bargo, is the refereeing "veteran" of the group.

She grew up watching her brother Digger play footy for the Thirlmere Roosters. In 2017, Eliza decided to grab a whistle and try refereeing.

"I love it. We referee from the under-6s [grade] up," she said.

"I love being around the kids and seeing their smiles when they score their first try."

Eliza said she thought Sharpe did "pretty well" officiating her first NRL game.

"It's a more male dominated sport so it's good to see girls getting into it," she said.

"There are not many girls around who are referees."

Chloe, Amanda and Eliza can officiate up to five games per day, in a mix of being the main referee or touch judge.

The girls also train each Monday night at Elderslie's Kirkham Park.

Group 6 Refereeing Association Shane Turnbull said had done well and benefited from great coaching through Country Rugby League.

"They have taken the opportunity with both hands and they always listen to any advice," he said.

Turnbull said Sharpe's appointment as NRL referee was "great for the game, especially at grassroots level".

"It shows that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything."