Memo ‘experts’: don’t turn the kids off for life

RUGBY League has a problem that will not go away. Many have tried to address it but to my knowledge it still exists. Too much footy.

With schoolboy footy, junior club and representative games plus kids trying to get through school with a decent result, something needs to happen.

Burnout is a real issue which seems to be commonplace, kids get told by club/school/parents, that they are a chance of making the NRL, then somewhere along the line someone tells them that isn't going to happen and they give up totally. Rather than play the game for fun they don't play at all. Another senior player is lost to grassroots footy, or in some cases robbed of their dream because whoever told them they weren't going to make it could have been wrong.

I HAVE seen plenty of experts tell kids at 18 they aren't going to make it; well who knows how they will develop at 20- 25? It is ridiculous but just highlights the pressure, or expectation put on kids at a young age.

What the answer is I don't know, but what I do know is one step would be someone smarter than me unifying schools-rep and club football so kids are not getting overdone at a young age, because grassroots footy state-wide in the senior ranks needs all the participants it can get.

IT is common knowledge only a low percentage of players make the NRL, but just like the point above, sometimes the experts are wrong.

At a lunch a couple of weeks ago former NRL champion Ben Ross told a story about the beginning of his career at the Dragons when the first grade coach at the time came into the dressing room after an under-age game that Ben was in, pointed to a couple of players and said "you and you will probably make first grade, the rest probably won't."

I think one of the Morris twins was skipper of that side and the story goes after those uninspiring words from an expert those kids made a pact to prove him wrong. I think 75% of the side went on to the NRL, which once again proves that experts are sometimes wrong.

JUST on Ben, and the heart wrenching injury to Alex McKinnon last weekend at Newcastle. Ben was quoted in the Daily yesterday about his experience with his neck injury at Cronulla, pointing out that sometimes these things just happen.

I was at Cronulla that night when Ben sustained his injury and I will never forget it or his courageous return to the field and I know all league fans will be hoping the young Newcastle Knight at the very least recovers to lead a normal life. If he gets to play again, well that will be a bonus.

COPPED a bit of flak last week about my comments about Queensland Water Police and considered handing in my licence to save them the trouble, but found out thankfully my leg was being pulled.

THE week gone and next week are very important for kayakers and lifesavers at Kayak Sprint National Championships in Adelaide and, starting Monday, the National Surf Lifesaving Titles in Perth.

I know that Sunshine Coast athletes have had a great week in Adelaide and wish all Sunshine Coast Surf Clubs the best of luck next week in Perth.

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