One thing that is really important for our kids coming through the ranks in rugby league is that they can see where the future may take them.
Queensland Rugby League’s RISE player development program, in partnership with the NRL, is designed to provide those greater pathways and encourage aspirational kids.
But, as we’ve seen in Ipswich, the importance of those pathways become all the more significant when highlighted by role models of our game, by those people that our juniors are aspiring to become.
Our RISE numbers in Ipswich have kicked off really well compared to last year.
We have received 121 applications, including 29 for female players, and to see this uptake is very encouraging.
But the South East team believe it has also been helped by the involvement of the Ipswich Jets.
The Jets have come onboard this year in a big way, offering two scholarships per junior club – with 12 clubs in the Ipswich area having international age group teams.
Not only will this encourage those who are going through financial hardship to sign up, but another idea behind it is to ensure those clubs with girls’ teams have their female players rewarded, with one scholarship guaranteed to go to a girl per club where possible.
It also helps to have a team like the Ipswich Jets on board to give the RISE program a strong reputation in the region.
The injection of professionalism from the Jets and promoting the aspirational pathway has certainly helped pick the numbers up in 2022.
It gives the program credibility, especially with Jets head coach Ben Cross part of the program - he’s a huge drawcard – while also highlighting where the program fits for players, coaches and managers in the representative pathways.
Aspirational players from this area will see and know that pathways exist to the Jets – that if they work hard and build upon their experiences, it will make them a better player and hopefully one day they can represent Ipswich and play for the Jets.
With this investment from the Jets, it shows them meeting the community and connecting with the grassroots of rugby league.
Overall, the RISE program is an excellent for kids to be involved in.
It covers a lot more than just the technical and tactical skills of the game or the physical aspects of our players.
Through Griffith University’s wellbeing program Life-Fit, RISE will also help with the social and emotional development of our players, their resilience, and who they are as a whole person.
This holistic approach is very important. It will not only give us better players but also better people in our communities.
Then, at the end of this program, our players get to play against other areas in competitive matches, allowing them to test all those new skills they’ve learned, with Ipswich playing against Toowoomba in their culmination of the program.
It’s a good opportunity to be able to do all the training and put those skills into practice.
Some areas are still taking registrations as well and, much like Ipswich, Brisbane are looking to fill their numbers, specifically with more females.
But overall, it’s really great to see areas like Ipswich thriving.
And with programs like this, they need great governance and Rugby League Ipswich are looking for just that, with an independent director role available to assist in building more opportunities, like this RISE program.
Elsewhere in the South East corner at the moment, we are very excited to play host to the National Championships, an elite pathway tournament for the next crop of female talent.
Held at Burleigh’s Pizzey Park from today, June 9, our team is helping to deliver it, which is a really great opportunity for them.
Our female operations team that run the SEQ competitions have now had the opportunity to work on a national delivery with the Championships, including helping to manage the event, dinners, and everything that is associated with that representative level.
They’ll take their learnings and bring it back to South East.
On top of this, it is obviously an important experience for our SEQ players.
For some, it will be the first time in a representative environment and, like RISE, they will see what it takes to prepare for these opportunities, both physically and mentally.
Good luck to all teams this weekend, but especially Queensland Sapphires and Queensland Rubys.