At the age of 89, Kev Woodward is showing no signs of slowing down as he continues to mentor the young players coming through the ranks at Cairns Kangaroos Junior Rugby League Club.
Woodward was introduced to the sport in 1947 and was a talented player himself before he started his career in coaching.
"My biggest highlight was the fact that I was selected to play for Cairns in the three grades... minor, junior and senior in our days,” Woodward said.
“And fortunately, I made what we call the North Queensland side, which I had to give away because I was in business, and if I got injured, my family would have to take over.”
After giving up football as a player, Woodward’s love for the game continued through a coaching position provided to him in 1954 by a local school in Cairns.
In the following years, Woodward quickly became a well-known coach in the area and he was approached by Cairns Rugby League to coach at many of the surrounding schools.
With such a wealth of experience, Woodward has spent the majority of his time as a coach with junior players, as he is incredibly passionate about the fundamental aspects of rugby league.
“Nobody is being taught how to use their feet or their hands or their eyes,” Woodward said.
“This is what I work on these days, teaching people how to become team players, not just one (player) who gets the ball and goes bang up the middle.
“I told the nine-year-old side I took this year that they would be doing things that senior footballers would be doing and I’m hoping what they learn can stick with them in the future.”
Kelvin Lesina, a life member of the Cairns Kangaroos, was coached by Woodward 52 years ago at Cairns North Primary School and still considers Woodward as one of the best coaches he ever had.
“He’s very considerate and he teaches the fundamentals of the game, how to tackle, how to pass a football, and that’s one of the best parts of his coaching,” Lesina said.
“He’s very patient with the younger people and what they learn from him isn’t hard, but it's having the patience and the right way of putting it across.”
With so much involvement in junior rugby league, Woodward plays a very important role as a mentor to the youngest players in the sport.
“With a mentor like Kev, you become really good friends, even with an age difference,” Lesina said.
“He still likes to keep following the younger players that he has worked with and overall, most of them that he participates with turn out to be good people.
“He very rarely misses a presentation day with the juniors and that’s his input into the game, he just loves coaching the younger generation.
“While he’s able to continue what he’s doing, he will, and he is admired for that.
“He’s certainly a legend.”
Woodward has an obvious love for rugby league, and after 73 years of involvement with the sport, it would be impossible to completely understand how many people he has inspired with his passion for coaching.
“When you meet some of the boys that you used to coach, it's just a wonderful feeling,” Woodward said.
“While my legs are still working, while my arms and my eyes are working and I can explain to the young people how to do things, that’s what I’m here for.”