Students enrolled in Marsden State High School’s girls rugby league excellence program received a special lesson last week when NRLW premiership-winning coach Kelvin Wright took a class to teach them how to be better players.
The Brisbane Broncos coach was invited to speak by Keeown Rawnsley, who is the girls rugby league excellence coordinator at the school, who wanted to up-skill both her staff and her students.
“I asked Kelvin to come in to help up-skill our team. I manage four other coaches and I just wanted to share some experience from a coaching perspective from someone like him, who has had extensive experience in the female game as coach,” Rawnsley said.
“He did a session on fundamental skills, game play and analysis for my staff... but I wanted him to get in front of our students too, to get the important message across to them that those fundamental skills are key to being a successful player.
“It’s not about all the advanced skills, it’s your basic ‘catch and pass’ core skills and Kelvin was able to give a really good insight into what the elite world looks like for female footy.
"The program is about making better people and using rugby league as the vehicle to engage students at a school and improve their overall education opportunities.
“He’s worked with Kiwi Ferns national team, Tweed Seagulls and with the Brisbane Broncos and it was good to get a different voice to share their knowledge with the girls too.”
Wright was also on hand earlier this year at the Queensland Rugby League’s SEQ Under 18 girls development camps in January, assisting the coaches to run a number of field sessions aimed at improving key skills.
Two players who took part in those camps were Jazmon Tupou-Witchman and Aaria Tapsell, who are also both enrolled in the program at Marsden.
Jazmon also played for the Queensland Under 18 side last year in their curtain-raiser match before the Harvey Norman State of Origin match at North Sydney Oval alongside Rosemary Vaimili Toalepai, River Smalley and Keisharn Hala, who all graduated last year.
"It's always good learning from someone who has been a part of the game for so long, especially someone of his calibre," Aaria said of the session with Wright.
"Coach Wright ran us through the basics focusing on ball play, two v one and draw and pass, and body positioning when passing.
"At the end of the session, it really showed some weaknesses (in my game) that I’ll definitely revisit and I’m sure others in the team feel the same.
"Our session with him just shows there's always room for improvement and there's always something to work on to be a better player and team mate."
Rawnsley, who was previously the NRL’s Queensland-based female participation coordinator who helped facilitate school-based competitions and development across the state, said while many of the girls were disappointed to see all forms of football called off or postponed earlier this year, they were looking forward to taking part in a new opportunity during term three of school.
“In term three, we will have modified inter-school sports competitions, but we are also going to be playing our seniors in a competition that will feature Marsden, Mabel Park, Beenleigh and Keebra in a four-way series,” Rawnsley said.
“We have planned this so we can give the Year 12 students footy, because they lose a lot of their other opportunities like Met East this year.
“That will start week three, term three, so that is coming up soon.
“We also have our year six trials coming up, where girls from surrounding areas will trial for acceptance into the program for 2021.”
With the school looking to establish a solid tie-in to club football, the pathways are set to become even stronger in the near future, with Marsden State High School to soon become a leading development pathway for junior girls at Souths Logan Magpies via the formation of academy squads, similar to the connection that has been created for the boys.