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Sheens: Kids Need To Choose

Sheens: Kids Need To Choose
From left: Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, Fiji National Rugby League chairman Reverend Immanuel Reuben with the State of Origin shield and West Tigers player Kevin Naiqama at Ratu Sukuna Park yesterday. Photo: Ronald Kumar
November 21
07:13 2014

Tim Sheens says the initiative by the National Rugby League (NRL) to develop children at a young age through its Pacific Outreach Programme is a step in the right direction.

Sheens, who has coached the Australian Kangaroos national team since 2009 said rugby league already is growing in the Pacific but the children needed  to be educated on the sport.

“I think NRL is really popular in the Pacific, looking at the numbers of kids who know all the players in the NRL and different kids that support different teams, there is obviously a broad support for rugby,” Sheens said.

“I mean obviously rugby union is popular too and that’s okay but there is enough room for both sports and we want the kids to be able to pick and choose what they want to play but there is no doubt that rugby league is more and more noticeable.”

With the Pacific Outreach Programme, Sheens hopes the NRL will take the development seriously with getting children actively involved in the sport.

“One thing we want to get out of this programme is the awareness of the sport initially but also to set up for the future,” he said.

“There will be three permanent staff members here employed by NRL to make sure that rugby league is supported and to have people here on the ground where the local administrators can go to for support is very important.

“We will continue this and hopefully this sort of visits from ambassadors of the game and officials will keep the momentum going because it’s no use setting this up now and not get serious with it in the next 10 years.

“I hope the NRL are very genuine about this, putting people on the ground and money to support this programme and hope to see an active participation of rugby league from the kids here in the future.”

Sheens who also visited Samoa in August with Jarred Hayne to launch the programme said in almost every game around 34 per cent of the players are Pacific islanders and to grow that percentage is what they hope to do in the sport.

“It all starts in the Pacific islands, we want to make the game strong here and for kids to see a direct career path and it would be good to see kids have that eagerness to play for their team here first before venturing out and moving on to bigger things,” said Sheens.

“In Australia, nearly 60 percent of the U20s competition players are Pacific islanders and just on 40 percent of the senior players are of Pacific islanders so you can see the influence that the Pacific has in NRL.”

He added including the programme with education go hand in hand in building not only players but good people in general and making kids realise it can be played as just a sport and not professionally all the time.

Meanwhile, NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said the reason they set up the programme was to give something back to the Pacific nations as they have contributed a lot to NRL.

“Every time the NRL game is played there is 34 percent of players from the Pacific in every game, there is a lot of rugby league players that have come from the Pacific, so we want to make sure that we say thank you.

Feedback:  justine.mannan@fijisun.com.fj

 

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