Sarah Marschke (bottom) playing club NRL in Sydney
Sarah Marschke (bottom) playing club NRL in Sydney

Sarah's journey from bullied teen to beauty queen

SHE copped bullying for being one of the first girls in Bundaberg to play rugby league, so it's no surprise Miss World Australia Sarah Marschke has spent her life smashing stereotypes.

The Queenslander, who has been based in Sydney for the past four years, has had a footy in hand since the age of six, when she started playing league alongside the little boys her age.

They were "always awkward" around her, she said.

Now, the 20-year-old model and sportswoman, who was crowned Miss World Australia on the Gold Coast last week, is hoping to be selected into the top level of competition in the AFLW this coming season after switching to the sport in her teens.

Marschke spoke to The Courier-Mail about the negative comments she faced growing up and how she overcame gender stereotypes, bullying and the constant remarks degrading women in sport.

Sarah Marschke.
Sarah Marschke. Courier Mail

"I was one of the first ever girls in Bundaberg to play rugby league," she said.

"My parents would get weird comments like why is your daughter playing rugby league?

"It's not a girl's sport… it wasn't normal back then."

Although she played league with the same boys until the age of 12, they never included her in tackling practice and partner work.

Marschke said, after representing Queensland at a state level in league and with Bundaberg finally getting enough girls to put together an under-13 team, she thought the tide was turning, but along came high school and more vicious talk.

Comments questioning her femininity and sexuality would become a constant "24-hour" slur and, according to Marschke, those "disgusting comments" are still happening in female sport today.

"It was quite upsetting," she said.

"I didn't really understand what was going on, I just wanted to play rugby league."

Marschke, whose twin older brothers Ben and Jesse play for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, was scouted by modelling agencies in Brisbane at the age of 15.

"My manager asked me to stop playing rugby league but I told her no," she said.

About a year later, she made the switch to AFL - opening her eyes to a world of opportunities.

She moved with her brothers to Sydney at the age of 17 after they were signed with the Sydney Roosters but she said she is still a maroon supporter at heart.

Marschke hopes her new platform allows her to be an advocate for women's sport and equality.

In December, Marschke will head to London to represent Australia at the International Miss World Competition.

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