One of the pioneers of women's rugby league in Canberra, Emma Stone, considered stepping away from the game this year before the Boomanulla family pulled her back in and showed their support.
"Mumma bear" - as she is affectionately known in the Boomanulla Raiders community - Stone considers the team she manages her family. And they feel the same way, rallying together to show their support for her cancer battle.
The Katrina Fanning Shield side organised a special jersey to honour Stone, who has had her own battle with ovarian and cervical cancer and continues to fight a liver tumour.
The jersey was designed by men's coach Jamie Morgan, with each different coloured circle representing the different types of cancers and the jersey's purple representing her favourite colour.
Her team surprised her at a Zoom meeting in lockdown, with the help of her son, under the guise of a must-attend event.
"It was a bit overwhelming ... I've got the jersey behind the door because every time I look at it, I'll just cry. It means a lot to me," Stone said.
"Now I've put it all together, like them asking me what my favourite colour was. I'm sitting back and I'm like, 'You sneaky buggers', was all I kept saying to them. But I'm very blown away and very humbled by it."
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Stone has been involved in Canberra's league scene for the last 15 years. She spent more than 10 years in various roles with the Tuggeranong Buffaloes and a few years with the South Tuggeranong Knights, before making the move to Boomanulla two years ago.
The 42-year-old helped pioneer the women's leagues, after her daughter Chelsea was going to have to give up the game back in 2010-11 with no pathways after under-12s for girls.
Boomanulla player, and one of Stone's friends Carrie Jackson, said there was not a dry eye during the Zoom presentation.
"Football is Emma, is probably the best way to put it," Jackson said.
"It was in honour of her and all of the hard work that she does, even though she's going through her own battles, just to say, 'Thank you, we appreciate you and we're not just a club, we're a family and we'll fight together'.
"I know what kind of a soul she is and she's just an amazing person. No words can express just how amazing she actually is. So to be able to do something like that for her is the biggest thing that I could do. And I know that she absolutely adores the club for that."
The jersey was due to be worn by the women's and men's teams in the final round of the CRRL this weekend but the Covid lockdown quashed those plans. Instead they plan to wear them during round one in 2022.
Stone said it gave the club the opportunity to hopefully raise funds for cancer causes ahead of the fixture next year, but it also meant another special occasion could be marked.
"The girls are just so gorgeous, I look at them like my own daughters. No one's ever asked me to do it but I just take on that role of, 'I've got to look after them, on and off the field'," she said.
"And my own daughter Chelsea, who isn't playing this year as she's having a bub, well I can't wait for the first game next year for her to pull on the jersey and run out and play again."
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