One of the round table discussions held by one of the groups led by scribe Col Hennessy during the NSW Grassroots Rugby League Summit staged at the Yamba Sports Complex on Saturday, 18th February, 2017.
One of the round table discussions held by one of the groups led by scribe Col Hennessy during the NSW Grassroots Rugby League Summit staged at the Yamba Sports Complex on Saturday, 18th February, 2017.

Summit the first step for bush footy

RUGBY LEAGUE: All they needed was a pin to drop when a hush fell over the audience at the NSW Grassroots Rugby League Summit as one half of the 2016 Young Australians of the Year, Lucas Patchett, captivated the audience.

Patchett, one of the creators of mobile homeless laundromate service Orange Sky Laundry, was in town to help rugby league clubs find a way to think outside the confines of being a bush footy club.

The inspiring 22-year-old delivered a heartfelt talk aimed at inspiring those at the summit that day to find ingenious ways to run the club more like a start-up enterprise when aiming to raise funds and connect with the community.

It was a message that summit convenor Debrah Novak believed resonated with 'cash strapped' clubs.

"I expected Lucas to be good but I was blown away at the depth of his maturity," Novak said. "I invited him so that others in the room would realise just how important it was to include young people in their conversation when they talk about the future of their sport."

 

The aim of the summit was to create a professional platform to engage with the wider grassroots rugby league community and stakeholders to find out what exactly were the issues facing the long term future of the sport across NSW.

The end goal is to establish a framework to action evidence based plans for the sustainable future of grassroots rugby league.

Country Rugby League regional manager Kevin Hill said he was impressed with the summit and admitted it was the first step toward helping solve the porblem in bush footy.

"They are trying to find out what is working for clubs in the area and get a body of information on what is beneficial to running a club in these financial times," he said.

"The major benefit was having a professional facilitator with little background in rugby league so she could come into it with a fresh set of eyes.

"That way she could help club representatives to think outside the box, and not just be stuck in the 1970s with our raffles and alcohol sales."

All the data collected from the summit and online survey will form a foundation document that can now be uses to better apply for funding through grants and governing bodies.

While almost 50 delegates from country clubs and the CRL attended the summit, an online survey which has had more than 60 respondents will also help form the base data for the foundation document.



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