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Community corner: Schools link to improve player outcomes

Queensland Rugby League is linking with schools like never before in a foundation step to better connect school and club football and pathways.

With the help of an injection of funding from the Queensland Government, QRL senior pathways and performance manager Brett Jones and his team has been engaging Queensland’s school regions in preparation for delivering coach education and on-field skills sessions for players from boys and girls Under 15 and Under 18 teams.

Brett oversees all our performance and all our pathways across Queensland and has some quality coaches employed by the QRL, including the likes of Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons coach Tahnee Norris, who are extending the work they do in clubs into schools.

This initiative, taking place in April and May in the lead up to the school state carnivals, will allow young athletes and their teachers will be able to see what the QRL values in our pathways and vision and drivers to make sure Queensland continues to be the No.1 rugby league state.

I think it’s not only an opportunity for players, but also an opportunity for the teachers to learn from coaching experts in that region and a number of recent former Queensland Maroons who have offered to share their wisdom.

The other benefit for players and coaches is making sure their workloads can be managed between school and club rugby league participants so they can continue to be involved at the highest level long-term.

In the end, we want these players to come through as State of Origin players.

The Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport funding has also helped facilitate a P-2 League Tag program rolling out across the state, delivered with the help of NRL game development on our behalf, which is going extremely well.

Developing a closer relationship with schools is a key part of our strategy moving forward and will particularly support our goals of getting more girls into the game and transition them into a statewide Under 17 competition in line with our 2023-2027 QRL Strategic Framework.

More generally, it’s rewarding to see so many people coming back to rugby league in 2023.

I watched my son playing in a trial game in Proserpine last week and there must have been 500 to 600 people there, which was amazing to see and shows how important rugby league is to rural communities.

Our numbers are really good for the start of the year compared to where we were at the same stage last year and I think we’re in for another bumper season of rugby league.

Shout out

A shout out to Scott Whybird, Veronica White and Queensland Representative School Sport rugby league committee for allowing the QRL into schools to more collaboratively work together and drive mutually beneficial outcomes for our players of the future.

Key dates

April 9 – Easter Sunday

April 25 – Anzac Day

Celebrating our team

Liberty Jones

Role: Social Impact and Inclusion Coordinator

Hometown: Brisbane, home of the Jagera people and the Turrbal people

Favourite Maroons player: Hard to choose, but I think you can’t go past the great Billy Slater. Amazing player and now our beloved coach!

Favourite Maroons Origin moment: My favourite Origin memory is going to my first Origin game when I was 10 with my dad – it was the only thing I wanted for my birthday that year and it’s something I’ll never forget. For a Maroons Origin moment, I’d have to say Ben Hunt’s try to win game 3 and the 2022 series!

Why you love your job: Working for an organisation that is loved by so many people across our state and country is such a privilege. I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to interact with so many different people across our communities and I get to see the impact our sport and organisation can have on people’s lives.

What Liberty brings to the team: Liberty has really impressed me in her new role where she has definitely helped to tell the QRL story on our social impact activations including Harmony Week and the Share the Dignity Drive. She isn’t afraid to ask or to jump into new things and her willingness to make a difference is infectious for the QRL team and the people she interacts with.

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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