Stalwart says "NRL bigger than idiots who make mistakes"
WHILE the NRL reels from its latest headache, the Titans' drugs scandal, one successful Sunshine Coast club says the game will weather yet another storm.
Kawana Junior Rugby League Club boasts more than 400 juniors on its books, and club president Justin Veivers yesterday spoke of the challenges that faced not just rugby league but all amateur sporting clubs when it came to developing juniors and handling transitional age groups.
"It's our role to provide them with a safe environment to have fun," Mr Veivers said.
"It's about putting positive people around them and giving them a positive experience."
Mr Veivers said that once players hit the 15-16-year-old age group both the QRL and NRL stepped up their health and well-being education, with players exposed to greater teaching about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
That increased education coincided with what Mr Veivers said was a traditionally difficult time for junior sports clubs when it came to trying to retain players.
"There's no doubt it's a massive challenge when you get kids at the age of 15," he said.
He said the mid-to-late teens presented plenty of distractions not just for young footballers but young children from all sporting codes, and was often the time when some youngsters slipped through the cracks.
"It's more about not forgetting the kids that aren't the elite," he said.
"Having really strong pathways is also important.
"Kids need to see it's a progression, there's no silver bullet to take you to the top of the NRL."
He said the junior Dolphins were working hard to ensure their juniors were receiving plenty of support from the club during those crucial years.
The club was looking to roll out its inaugural safe driving campaign with its 15 and 16-year-old teams this season.
Mr Veivers believed the issues facing the game at present were not problems with rugby league itself, but rather a snapshot of the issues with society in general.
"It's really important to manage all of the kids, not just the really good players," he said.
"Way too many young kids are taking their own lives.
"You need so many things in your football career to go right to be an NRL footballer... it's our job to make sure that it's not playing for sheep stations."
The league-loving local said the current saga was a huge problem for the Gold Coast Titans, but he believed many lovers of the game understood that rugby league was stronger, and represented far more, than those who did the wrong thing.
"The game's bigger than the idiots who make mistakes," Mr Veivers said.