Grassroots in Australia: Debate Intensifies

Junior rugby league is back in the spotlight after my article the other day titled “Beginning of the end for Grassroots Rugby League in Australia” which was published on 6th February.

Since the article has been published, the topic has been discussed far and wide on social media, especially on The Final Whistle Podcast Facebook page, to the point where one of Australia’s best NBA exports Andrew Bogut had his say on Twitter.

I myself have received plenty of phone calls and inboxes from people wanting to know what’s going on?

There haven’t been many people out there who have supported the proposed rule changes.

The few that have supported them have based their argument on one piece of evidence or video, such as smaller kids getting their tackle technique wrong on bigger opponents.

Admittedly the results of this are often not pretty, but they can be easily avoided if each team has a fit a proper coach who is teaching the right methods.

Many current junior coaches are mums and dads who have been on a one or two-day coaching course.

No disrespect to these people, I admire your willingness to volunteer your time to coach the next generation, however it doesn’t often lead to the best results.

We need to be teaching kids the correct way on how to tackle properly and safely, without getting hurt.

I don’t think a two-day course is enough to emphasise this enough, and are the right techniques even taught to them because the game is constantly evolving.

Back when I first became a coach, we would do the course over a few nights for a couple of weeks and then outside of that the coaching coordinator would attend your training sessions without you knowing.

They would be there to watch how you conducted your sessions, while also attending games too, all of which was part of the assessments to get your coaching certificate.

Then after that it was up to the coaches to keep up to date with the latest techniques.

I know currently it’s every four years that coaches need to redo the course, but why not add a refresher in there every two years?

The coaches need to be progressing as much as the players, there should be more emphasis on them gaining further certificates in order to improve themselves and the players.

People may say that there aren’t enough resources out there or people to fulfil these jobs to coach the coaches, but this could potentially be something that the NRL needs to look into and develop a strategy?

I’m not the world’s best coach, I’m far from it, but I believe with the right coaching techniques it will give the children the confidence they need to play at every level and reduce the risk of injury.

The old saying goes ‘hard work will beat natural talent every day of the week.’

We should be encouraging kids to play against other kids of all sizes and challenge themselves, like we do when it comes to life in general.

Sports like MMA, karate and kick boxing won’t take away their core teachings, they would lose their soul, just like junior rugby league will if these changes are approved.