A bit of encouragement doesn't hurt
TV3 ran a piece in their sports bulletin talking about league in schools on Tuesday.
The gist of the story was that the New Zealand Rugby League was having an impact at secondary school level but was still being met with resistance from many schools throughout the country.
The final line in the story went, "NZRL says all it wants is for students to be given the choice."
For me those 13 words were the most important.
Why in this situation are our kids not being pushed to take on new challenges?
I've got a reality check for principals, sports co-ordinators and, in some cases, teachers – it isn't all about you.
If a group of kids at a school wants to play rugby league then encourage them to take on that challenge, rather than frowning upon it and putting road blocks in place.
The more active New Zealand's youngsters are the better it must be – we are told that regularly.
Unfortunately league is viewed by some principals, or general decision-makers at many schools in New Zealand, as some sort of evil empire.
They never played the sport; their mates never played the sport, so why all of a sudden should today's kids play it?
A school that deserves a pat on the back for getting it right is the small Winton-based secondary school of Central Southland College.
Five years ago they had a pupil approach a teacher asking why they couldn't play league.
Instead of mumbling an unrelated answer before herding that kid and his mates back to the rugby union field, the school, and in particular one teacher, took it on board.
The school went about providing them with the opportunity to have a crack at playing league.
They now have an under-15 team and a first XIII team at the school and that first XIII team will, in September, head to the New Zealand Secondary School Championships in Auckland.
Many of them still play rugby union as well and the kids are as active as they have ever been.
If only other schools provided this sort of encouragement.
Most schools have a league team but in some cases those teams are coached, managed and organised entirely by the pupils themselves.
Rugby remains New Zealand's national game and whatever league does it will struggle to tip them off that pedestal.
Rugby is far more advanced in many areas and the resources they have available will continue to attract many more players.
Take Southland for example. Southland District Rugby League operate on about $40,000 a year, Rugby Southland are closer to the $4 million mark.
Rugby Southland have about a dozen staff members, Southland Rugby League has one part-timer.
Rugby Southland, at the moment, spend about $1m on player payments, Southland Rugby League spend $0.
It is a no-brainer, rugby has a massive head start and should always remain the dominant sport.
There is no need for a a battle of the codes.
Our young people should try their hand at many different things early in life.
Our schools surely have a major role to play in that.
- © Fairfax NZ News