Hornby Panthers are holding their inaugural Women In League Day this Saturday – and the club is hopeful it is the first of what will become a marquee annual event.

The idea for the event spawned from a desire to properly recognise the contribution of the many women who toil tirelessly to keep the Panthers going.

“A couple of senior players came to us about the work women do behind the scenes at the club,” Hornby president Brent Tomlinson explained.

“We do our Volunteer of the Year (award) and that kind of thing, but that could be any of the guys or ladies at the club.

“The guts of the club is run by ladies – they’re the backbone of everything we do.

“Quite often you don’t realise what they do until they’re away and things fall over.”

Tomlinson singled out Diane Bisman as one person who deserves to have the depth of the club’s appreciation put on display.

“Diane organises senior and junior teams, uniforms, registrations, injury cards, you name it,” he said.

“And if she doesn’t know it, she knows who knows it or where to find it.

“We have about 220 juniors and nearly as many senior players, and she knows them all by name, who their mum and dad is, who they’re related to.”

While most volunteers come on board as a result of their kids playing rugby league for the Panthers, Tomlinson says the ones who stay on beyond that are the lifeblood of the club.

“You’ll get a lady who is a manager or a coach (for their child’s team) – which is great – but then there’s the ones that go on to coach or manage after their kids have finished, take on duties at the club, or with several teams.

“There’s different levels of volunteers, but it’s the ones that put in because it’s the right thing to do we want to recognise.”

The Panthers have designed a special strip for the Massetti Cup clash with Celebration Lions at Leslie Park.

“When the guys came to us, they were like, ‘some of these ladies are like Wonder Woman, Superwoman’, so we thought maybe the strip should be like a superhero outfit,” Tomlinson said.

“The intent was to make it a men’s strip but with a feminine element to recognise our superheroes behind the scenes. It’s a one-off kit, with matching pink socks.”

“We’re going to do a jersey presentation with some of the more notable ladies who are very good at avoiding being recognised.

“Jersey presentations are usually to do with our big matches, grand finals and testimonials and things like that, so we’re going to have half a dozen of the ladies who do things behind the scenes to present the jerseys.”

It’s shaping as a memorable afternoon at Leslie Park for Hornby’s ladies, with tickets being sold to a VIP area with complimentary food and drink on offer, plus gift bags with a scarf, wine glass and an assortment of other items – with pink and the Panthers the overriding themes.

The Women In League Day is set to end with a bang courtesy of a function in the main hall and live music into the evening.

“It’s our first go-around at something like this and we haven’t done anything like this on this sort of scale before, apart from the State of Mind and our Centenary, for a while,” Tomlinson said.

“It’s also the day before Mother’s Day, and we want to recognise all the little things they do.”

Tomlinson revealed that for future Women In League events the Panthers would ideally be able to incorporate their women’s team’s game into the festivities.

But he implored supporters to keep this weekend’s party rolling by getting down to Branston Park at 1pm on Sunday for their match against Aranui Eagles.

“The women’s team have done a couple of opposed sessions with our (men’s) prems,” he said.

“Jed (Lawrie), the men’s premiers coach, has been helping out their coach and players. They went from having nine players to having too many last weekend.”

“They give it a real crack. Most of them are the partners of our prems and Bs and Div One players, so having dad on the sidelines with the kids watching mum run around is a nice way to spend the day.”

The recently refurbished Leslie Park still has limited-use status, but Tomlinson said the club is aiming to give every Hornby player the opportunity to play on their home track this season.

“What we’re trying to do is get all our teams and grades to be able to have played a game at home, hopefully by the end of this month, in front of our supporters.

“That’s where everyone wants to play, at home in front of your own crowd and go into your own clubrooms.”

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