Sienna is a young woman with a passion for rugby league and dreams of becoming a professional.
Sienna Jopp is a young Indigenous woman with a passion for rugby league, and dreams of becoming a professional in the code’s national women’s league.
A Grow A Star scholarship is helping Sienna and her mum Belinda with the cost of specialist training to help her to achieve that dream.
The 14 year old from Bellbird in the NSW Hunter Valley will use the scholarship to help pay for the costs associated with travelling to and attending her training with the Hunter Academy of Sport, Specific Sports Training and Tim Browne’s Leading Edge intensive 12-week coaching program for rugby league.
At just 14 years of age, she is very focused on her goal, training five days a week alongside completing Year 8 at Mount View High School.
As a single mother with four children, Sienna’s mum Belinda was struggling to pay for Sienna’s specialist training and to manage all her family’s competing demands. Belinda says Sienna has the talent and potential to achieve her long-held dreams. She is grateful for the scholarship.
“This training helps Sienna to be physically healthier and is also integral for her mental health,” Belinda says.
Sienna’s potential is already well recognised.
She recently trialled in the Newcastle Knights U/17 Lisa Fiola Squad alongside 51 other young women and she was among the 11 that were selected to join the squad. This will be the first U/17 team that the Knights will field in 2024, with trial games happening in December 2023 and final selections taking place after this for the first round in February 2024.
It’s been a journey for Sienna to reach this point, but with the support of Grow a Star, she is realising her dreams, one competition at a time.
In March 2023, Sienna successfully trialled for a position in the Hunter Combined High Schools Under 16s Girls Rugby League team. She was one 40 young hopefuls, many of whom were a couple of years older than her, competing for a place.
In October 2023, Sienna participated in the NSW Koori Rugby League Knockout Carnival on the Central Coast, playing with the Newcastle Yowies and she was chosen to play in the Northern NSW side in the Harmony Cup in Wollongong later that month.
She also played in the PCYC Nations of Origin rugby league team, representing the Worimi people in Port Stephens. Nations of Origin is an annual multifaceted sport, cultural, education and leadership program that culminates around NAIDOC Week. Each year around 1,400 Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people represent their Aboriginal Nation in rugby league, football fives, basketball, netball and gymnastics to promote reconciliation within communities and celebrate Australia diverse Indigenous culture.
Sienna says the extra training is essential in developing her skills and fitness. She is hopeful that all of these opportunities will continue to see her work her way towards her long-term goal of playing professional rugby league in the future.
She is on her way to becoming a rugby league star.