GIRL POWER: Mackenzie Stewart at Emerald Junior Motocross Club's first club day last weekend.
GIRL POWER: Mackenzie Stewart at Emerald Junior Motocross Club's first club day last weekend. Terry Hill

Bikes build girls' confidence

Motocross: The number of women taking part in motocross is gaining ground with groups such as Emerald Junior Motocross Club encouraging more girls, over-16s and local mums to join in.

Mel Stewart, whose five-year-old daughter Mackenzie has been racing in the participant level 'Demo' class for just over a year, said young girls developed confidence and self-assurance through motocross.

"I think if young women have the confidence to take on something that's primarily a male-dominated sport they're going to grow up being able to move forward facing whatever issue they're coming up against with self-assurance,” Mrs Stewart said.

Mrs Stewart, who is also training to be one of the club's race secretaries, said children could ride in the non-competitive category for four- to nine-year-olds, or they could begin competitive racing from age 7.

She said her 10-year-old son Daniel races a 65cc bike with the club and her husband, Scott, races in the veterans group for men over 35.

Currently the club has about 125 members - including 25 women and girls - and at their first Club Day for the year last weekend, supporting Anglicare CQ local services for mental heath and wellbeing and their ongoing support for local families, 85 members raced including seven junior girls and seven women in the 16 and older age group.

"From my observations, racing can help girls build confidence - they're out there battling it out with the blokes.

"The girls get excited that they're moving forward in their skills and technique for racing.

"It also helps them create friendships and as a mum and as an official, those relationships with the other families and other riders are really important.”

She said that at last weekend's race day, eight-year-old Brooke Ball placed second overall on her 65cc in the seven- under nine-year-old age group and she placed first on her 50cc auto in the same age group.

Amaya Lamont came third in the same age group her 50cc auto racing against four boys, and she came in the top 10 for the 65cc age group racing against 11 boys.

Hayley Ball, 11, came first on her 85cc bike in the 9-u12-year-old age group racing against nine boys.

Tarlia Pearson also competed in the 85cc group for the Under-12s category, racing against five boys.

"Once the girls reach 16 they can take part in the unlimited class for women, and we had seven girls competing in this on the weekend,” Mrs Stewart said.

"Caitlin Owers had her debut ride in this age group and she placed second overall in our women's class.

"And she was up against the 2018 C&J Excavator Hires Women's Queensland Championship title holder, Nicole Kenny, who came first.

"We also see mums who are passionate about being a part of their family's sports like Nicole Corney, and Rebecca Hayden who debuted on the track over the weekend.”

Mrs Stewart said racing involved plenty of practise, skill growth and self-development which young women were able to reflect on as they finished school and went to uni or began work.

"Racing can have its disappointments - it may not go as you want, anything could affect your point score at the end of the meeting - there could be issues with your bike in the middle of racing, unfortunately there can be injuries and there are rules and guidelines to follow.

"Riders learn acceptance that sometimes things just don't go our way and then most importantly, how to respond and move forward from those disappointments.”

She said, "I think because racing and racing motocross is a male-dominated sport it's always great as a woman to see other women taking place in those events.

"And as a mother and wife, it's always fun to see the girls take on the boys.”

As part of Queensland's Women's Week, Motorcycling Queensland offered discounted rates for women and girls participating in events like Sunday's Club Day. This Saturday 9th of March, the Emerald Junior Motorcycle Club is hosting a free Come and Try day with Women's-only Beginners Coaching at 7am and practice from 8am and then the event is open to all those interested in motocross and who have not previously held a MQLD license from 11am-3pm at Mozzie Creek.