NRL stars give back to the game they love

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Three years ago former Gold Coast Titans team mates Luke O’Dwyer, Scott Prince and Ashley Harrison sat around a table eating lunch together between training sessions and discussed a dream.

That dream was to inspire the next generation of rugby league players and supporters and is now a reality with the launch of Little Leagies, a rugby league and touch football development program aimed at children aged two to six years.

“As parents and long-term players and supporters of rugby league we felt there was a gap in the current market that engaged potential rugby league players and supporters of a young age,” says foundation Gold Coast Titan and Tweed Heads Seagulls junior Luke O’Dwyer.

“Back when we tabled the idea there were a few programs that targeted the pre-school and pre-junior age groups for various sports but none to our knowledge that were specifically rugby league based.”

The plan evolved to include touch football when the National Rugby League acquired Touch Football Australia in 2013.

“This is our way of giving back to a game that has provided us each with so much enjoyment over the years,” former Queensland representative Ashley Harrison says.

The classes introduce children to the games of rugby league and touch football in a safe, fun and non-contact environment with a range of generic childhood development and game-specific skills. The program is designed to increase child participation in sport and enable a smooth transition into junior rugby league and touch football competitions.

“As kids we couldn’t wait to meet the minimum age requirement and play junior league. So we are proud to offer an opportunity for children not yet old enough to play in junior competitions, to learn the basic skills, form friendships, and develop an appreciation of what we think is the greatest game of all,” says former Queensland and Australian representative Scott Prince.

The three founders and directors are juggling multiple on and off field commitments to start small in their Gold Coast hometown. The dream is national expansion of the program which may provide opportunities for retiring NRL players to stay involved in and grow rugby league in their hometowns following their professional careers.

Little Leagies classes kick off on March 8 and will run during school terms on a Saturday morning at King’s Christian College in Reedy Creek.

For more information or to enrol visit www.littleleagies.com.au.

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