I’m about as sporty as a geriatric turtle with vertigo. Despite my inability to catch or hit a ball, I am big on my kids playing sport.
And rugby league gets a double thumbs up from this uncoordinated mum of two. Not just because it inspires kids - both boys and girls - to stay active and healthy, but because it teaches them these valuable lessons about life.
Here are just a few:
1. You don’t always have to be the star.
Community rugby league doesn’t emphasise winning at the expense of a child’s enjoyment. While it’s still competitive, the focus is on creating an inclusive environment where every member of the team has a chance to develop.
For kids aged 5 to 15, there are policies like the Dummy Half and First Receiver vest rotation that ensures every young player has a chance to shine in a key position. From passing the ball to supporting the ball carrier (being ready to receive the ball), kids are introduced to the principles of teamwork – respect, support and collaboration. These will be vital as they grow into well-rounded teenagers and adults.
2. You won’t always win.
Having two boys who are only 18 months apart – aged 6 and 8 – means there are a few brawls in our house over who won what. From board games to sprints down the street, heated debates erupt over who just did something dodgy to come out on top. It’s one thing to tell kids that winning isn’t the be all and end all of life, it’s another thing for them to internalise that message through sport.
In rugby league, your kids' team won’t always win. And that’s ok. In fact, when you’re doing something you love, there can be a heck of a lot of joy in coming second.
3. We’re all gloriously unique.
As our kids grow up they learn more and more about who they are, including their strengths and weaknesses. Our job as parents is to help them along that path of self-discovery. Because if you don’t know yourself, how can you trust and love yourself, amiright?
When playing rugby league, kids learn how to collaborate with others, communicate without words and trust their instincts. The game unveils their strengths and the personality traits that make them gloriously unique. That kind of self-awareness gives them the clarity to identify and achieve goals that truly matter to them. It’ll also help them realise that strength is not just physical, it comes in many different forms.
That's why rugby league is also an excellent choice for girls. It has some different elements to more traditional girls' sports, and emphasises different abilities. No matter what, there's a chance for diverse kids to shine.