Meet Louise Fellingham – the Salford Red Devil inspiring girls on and off pitch

Louise Fellingham knows exactly what it means to be a role model for young girls as a firefighter – now she is taking that responsibility onto rugby league grounds.

Stand-off Fellingham is the captain of the newly-formed Salford Women’s team that won their first ever game against local rivals Swinton at weekend.

She only started playing the sport last year with Warrington’s reserve team, but impressed the Red Devils’ coaching staff so much that she was chosen to lead the trailblazing side.

Now Fellingham wants to show the next generation of talented young women that anything is possible – on or off the pitch.

Fellingham explained: “In my line of work you hear a lot from young girls that want to be firefighters, they’re in awe.

“It’s the same with this, you need that visibility and to be able to influence and show young girls that you can play for the team that you’ve supported since you could walk.

“We’re all aware of the importance of this, and after the match I got to speak to some of the board members who had daughters and you can just see that now this is an option for them.

“They can see women running out onto the AJ Bell pitch and it’s something that’s do-able, rather than just seeing our male counterparts. It’s massive for the women’s game.”

Salford chairman Paul King wrote a stirring pre-match speech that described the team as “true pioneers” before they showed flashes of their potential in a 30-4 win.

They are still waiting to hear which division they will compete in for their debut campaign but Fellingham insists the creation of this team extends well beyond what they can achieve in 2022.

She said: “It feels like a project where we can create something really good for years to come, not just the here and now.

“The significance of it being the first ever open age women’s side for Salford wasn’t lost on us. A family member of ours was a diehard Salford fan, and I saw the pride that comes out of that.

“I currently train new firefighters in the Greater Manchester area and there are so many Salford supporters that come through it.

“One of them messaged to say his daughter was so excited that my name was on the first squad list.”

And Fellingham believes that many of the skills she uses in her day job will translate to the rugby league pitch.

She added: “There are a lot of core values that we have in the fire and rescue service that are massively transferrable.

“That’s what I try and bring, those standards. Things like respect, inclusivity and excellence – we want to be the best we can be.”

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