A NEW sports participation program is set to benefit local junior sports stars when it arrives in Armidale next month.
Todd Louden and colleague, Adrian Delore, from not for profit organisation GRRA8, developed the Greater Rugby Communities Program as part of a personal mission to tackle the decline in sports club participation and the increasing lack of movement by young kids.
The Armidale program is part of a series to be run in regional NSW with the support of Greater Bank. It is running for four weeks with a one hour session each week on a Friday starting September 2. The program is being held through The Armidale RUFC and is open to boys and girls from within and outside the Club.
Mr Louden said the program goes old school to go forward. He said it uses fun, old- style school yard games (such as ‘Bugs & Spiders’) and multiple ball types to firstly encourage enjoyment of and skills in movement in both girls and boys. Game basics such as catching, passing, running, kicking and tracking are also taught.
He said the program is based on best practice participation and performance structures. A unique element of the program is concurrent sessions for parents and sporting club officials. Topics include youth health and wellbeing, mentoring and leadership as well as financial planning and management to help boost club sustainability.
“The program supports all sports with a focus on regional and country centres,” Mr Louden said.
“My experience with coaching kids and coaching at the top level is that as people increasingly spend time on devices we are seeing an increase in incomplete basic movement skills,” he said.
Mr Louden said The Australian Bureau of Statistics' General Social Survey shows that the sports participation rate fell from 74 per cent to 70 per cent between 2010 and 2014 and that people in regional areas are less likely to play or watch sport than in major cities. He said Heart Foundation data shows that only 19 per cent of Australian children and young people, aged 5-17 years meet the physical activity recommendations.
Mr Louden said support from philanthropists and organisations, such as Greater Bank, Total Equipment Group and Rhino Sports & Leisure Australia, help make the program cost effective for clubs. Participants receive a pack that includes a ball, towel, water bottle, sunscreen and a $5 savings account voucher from Greater Bank.
Greater Bank Armidale branch manager Wendy Ng said her team was getting behind the program because sport improves health, teaches kids skills and brings communities together. Ms Ng will also be running a session for parents with tips on better managing money and helping kids to save.
“As a customer-owned bank, Greater Bank’s focus is on a greater way of banking for customers and support for the local community,” Ms Ng said.
GRRA8 also provides coach think tanks, club health checks and club development programs. Mr Louden had an extensive Super Rugby coaching career domestically and overseas including with the Melbourne Rebels. He is a former teacher and was the architect of the Sydney University Elite Development Squad, considered Australia's largest rugby nursery.
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