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In 17 years, Karly Forsyth became an inspiration to her peers and fellow rugby players. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Remembering ‘wahine toa’ Karly Forsyth

In 17 short years, Karly Marie Forsyth left an impression on the people she met.
Evident in her family, proud of the woman she had become; in the friends, who will cherish the schooltime pranks and hilarity; and in the rugby teammates, who were awed by her physical prowess and passion, Karly Forsyth was an inspiration, in every sense of the word.
Karly was farewelled on November 3, and while there wasn’t a dry eye left in the Ngatea War Memorial Hall, burgeoning with people who knew the teen “pocket rocket”, there were also stories that elicited laughter, like the ones told from long-time friends Brooklyn Nicholson, Jamie Kennedy, Cade Paton, and Chris Lourens.
“We are going to miss pushing you into every bush we walk past. We are going to miss putting rocks and bark in your bag and seeing how long it takes you to notice. We are going to miss losing you in a crowd of Year 9s at school. We are going to miss playing with your crutches and slings every second week. We are going to miss you laughing at stuff that’s not even funny.
“Most of all,” they said, “we will miss you.”
Karly, a 17-year-old passionate about sports and known for her wit and humour, had recently received a devastating diagnosis of a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
She passed away on October 28.
But in 17 years, Karly grew into a dedicated and determined wahine toa. Hailing from a strong sporting family, Karly didn’t let injuries stop her from making an impact on the rugby field.
Gavin Flint, from Hauraki North Rugby Club, told of how Karly became the first young woman to wear the Number 9 jersey when the club established its first women’s rugby team in its history, dubbed the Diamonds.
She ran on to the field as part of the first ever Diamonds squad in their first ever game earlier this year, and played at half-back.
“She’d be an inspiration to every young girl coming through our school system at the moment,” Gavin said. “If you want inspiration, look to Karly Forsyth. She had amazing determination, a lovely personality, a good work ethic… everything you want in a good role model.
“Karly girl, no matter how many girls wear that Number 9 jersey in the future, you will always be the first. You will always be remembered. It will always be your jersey.”
A 12-hour walkathon around the Hauraki North fields has been planned to remember Karly’s spirit and legacy.
It will be held on Saturday, December 2, from 8am to 8pm, with all donations going to Starship Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
Club president Andrew Williams said anyone of any age was welcome to take part. The 12-hour walk dubbed ‘Ks for Karly’ could even be divided between teammates, he said.
“We’ve got an opportunity here to get out in the community and acknowledge what has happened. [Karly’s parents] Brad and Ange have done so much for us, so we wanted to create an event that did something for them and something for Starship as well.”
Individuals and groups wanting to enter, and those interested in donating or providing spot prizes, can do so by contacting Hauraki North Rugby Club on Facebook.
Karly’s family told The Profile they were grateful for the community’s continuous support.
“On behalf of our family, we would like to say a huge thank you to family, friends and the local community for their aroha, support, and generosity during Karly’s battle with cancer and the ongoing support we are still receiving.”
Karly was the beloved daughter of Brad and Ange (nee Hancock), and the strong and cheeky little sister of Lara. All of those who knew Karly agreed, her legacy will live on.
DETAILS: Ks for Karly, Saturday, December 2, 8am to 8pm at Hauraki North Rugby Club, Waitakaruru. Email to enter and/or donate.