“Pass the ball how you receive it” was one of the key messages delivered in this year’s NRL Road To Regions tour – a message more about respect than rugby league skills.
Titans centre Dale Copley last week made the journey out to the border towns of St George in Queensland and Lightning Ridge in NSW to visit local schools, do community visits and hold coaching clinics for local juniors and coaches.
Copley said he got as much out of the tour west as the communities he was there to visit.
“We go to visit some communities that we usually don’t get to see,” Copley said.
“We hear and read a fair bit in the news about how dry it out there, and the stuff going on in their lives with the drought. But to see it first-hand was pretty eye-opening.
“The welcome, and the genuineness of the people out there is just pretty inspiring considering what they are going through in their life. It was a really valuable trip and one I really enjoyed.”
“Certainly the kids got a great thrill. We were there presenting a workshop on respect, and using rugby league as a way of sending a message about respecting people in everyday life.
“Then we would take them out on the field and play a few games, which they always like – even when it is about 40 degrees out there. They are a pretty resilient bunch.
“At the coaching clinics, we were able to speak to their parents, and a few of the adults, and I think it put a real smile on their faces too. It is not everyday that they get NRL players visiting their community. I think the kids certainly got a lot out of it, but the adults really enjoyed it as well.”
Copley said using rugby league to drive home the message of respect resonated with the kids in St George and Lightning Ridge.
“The main message is to pass the ball how you receive it,” he said. “That is a thing that, as a junior footballer, you hear a hell of a lot from your junior coaches.
“But we have used it as ‘treat the person next to you the way you want to be treated’.
“We gave a little workshop on that. We spoke about how you can respect teachers and other students in the class, but also about respecting yourself – dietary, getting enough sleep, that sort of stuff
“Pretty basic stuff, but I think by using rugby league as a vehicle, it is the same message from a different avenue that the kids really liked.”
Visiting the hometown of Gold Coast teammate Ash Taylor, Copley said there was plenty of young talent in St George hoping to be Titans of the future.
“There were a few claims as Ash’s cousin – the kids were saying they knew him quite well,” Copley said.
“He still obviously gets back there a little bit. There were certainly a lot of mentions of Ash Taylor.
“There were actually a couple of twins, that were about 12 I think, that came down and absolutely lit up the game of touch. So they might be two to look out for.”