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QRL supports trial of world-first program to help improve junior playing experience

Are you a parent with a desire to help your child have a positive experience in junior rugby league?

If the answer is yes, the Queensland Rugby League wants you to take part in a unique program that provides practical tips and strategies to help your child enjoy their ongoing participation in rugby league.

It’s all part of a proactive approach by the game, with the National Rugby League teaming with researchers from The University of Queensland and Central Queensland University to be the first Australian sport to launch the new Play Well Triple P program.

Queensland Maroons great Sam Thaiday is throwing his support behind the initiative by calling on parents to register for the study being piloted across the South East region.

As an added incentive, parents who take part will go into the draw to win a family pass to Game II of this year's State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium.

“On the footy field and at home, parents can do a lot to help kids have a positive experience in junior sport,” Thaiday said.

“How we get involved in their sporting life can affect whether our child enjoys sport and wants to keep playing.

“While we all want our kids to have a great time playing junior sport, there are some things we do, as parents, that aren’t helping them get the most out of the game… like losing our temper, discouraging our kids or having unrealistic expectations of them.”

Behaviour like this can often be the catalyst for children dropping out of rugby league, which is why the former state and international representative is such a staunch supporter of the Play Well project.

Thaiday has many memorable experiences as a junior player while growing up in Townsville, and ultimately it was the early part of his rugby league journey that laid the foundations for a decorated NRL career that spanned more than 300 top grade games. 

The Maroons legend now wants parents and the wider rugby league community to listen to the experts who are heading up the project, which aims to trial the feasibility of the new online program. 

The research team is interested in seeing how effective the program is for parents of children (aged up to 12 years) who are enrolled in junior rugby league this season. 

The project will look at the effect of the program on sports-related and general parenting skills, as well as parents’ sports-related beliefs and expectations. 

This study is being conducted by researchers from UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition and Parenting and Family Support Centre and Science, and CQU.

Play Well involves the completion of an online module (taking around 30 minutes) by parents only, covering topics including the importance of sport for children, the role of parents in sport and common sporting problems experienced by parents and children. 

It also asks parents to think about their behaviour and expectations in relation to their child’s participation in rugby league.

Clinical psychologists Dr Matt Sanders from UQ and Dr Cassy Dittman from CQU have teamed up with Thaiday to share key messages.

“Enrolling your child in junior sport is a great investment in their physical and personal development – but it’s only the first step,” Dr Sanders said.

“Our influence on how our kids enjoy their sport goes well beyond weekends of cheering from here on the sidelines.

“Together in this program, we’ll look at ways of becoming a more positive sporting parent, how to avoid common traps, and strategies to strengthen positive behaviour.”

Dr Dittman said it was also important to “lift our perspective” and look at the whole field of benefits that kids derive from playing team sport.

“Sport fosters physical development well beyond better fitness,” Dr Dittman said.

“It strengthens the body, improving balance and co-ordination.

“And kids who play sport are more likely to be physically active adults … a life-long habit leading to better health and wellbeing.”

Parents can sign up to the study at the Play Well website.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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