International Rugby League Women and Girls Advisory Group appoint new secretary
The Women and Girls Advisory Group (WGAG), which was appointed by the board of International Rugby League (IRL) to provide expert advice on the growth and development of the female game has appointed Joanna Lester as its secretary.
Joanna has worked and volunteered in rugby league for 20 years in the UK, Australia and Papua New Guinea as a journalist, media manager, communications adviser, filmmaker and administrator.
Her major area of interest has been the growth of international rugby league, and she has focused on Pacific rugby league since 2009. In 2014, Joanna moved to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as the inaugural media and communications adviser for the NRL’s community development program there. She remained closely involved in rugby league in PNG as media manager for the PNG Kumuls and Orchids.
As a result of the work in PNG, she directed the multi-award-winning documentary Power Meri (Powerful Women), which followed the Orchids to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and explored the broader social impact of women playing rugby league. Accompanied by an outreach and impact campaign, the film has been released globally via film festivals and TV broadcasts, is being used by several rugby league national federations to promote the women’s game and is part of the schools’ education resource pack for Rugby League World Cup 2021.
Since 2019, Joanna has been working for Asia Pacific Rugby League and is now leading on the organisation’s women’s strategy.
WGAG Chair, Julia Lee welcomed Joanna to her new position saying, “It is a pleasure to have Joanna join the talented and committed members of WGAG in such a pivotal role. She brings a vast amount of real and lived experience which will be invaluable to our group.”
Joanna replaces outgoing secretary So’oletaua Motuliki who wants to concentrate her time working with WGAG on more local, regional-facing working groups