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Coaching Conference Secures Future

Words: Martin Gabor, National Correspondent , NRL.com

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The successful implementation of the NRL's 2016 National Coaching Conference has 300 mentors better placed than ever to help guide rugby league's next generation of stars. 

Following on from last year's one-day conference on the Gold Coast, this year's event at ANZ Stadium brought together coaches from the under-6s, women's competitions, as well as those in elite leagues to build on their leadership skills. 

Coaches from all across Australia, as well as representatives from New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji were given the opportunity to develop their skills and learn from some of the finest minds in the game through a combination of theory-based exercises and on-field drills. 

NRL National Coaching and Education Programs Lead Jeremy Kurtz said that it was important for those in attendance to learn how to better themselves as coaches; not just by what they tried to teach their players, but also how those messages were relayed. 

"We've got a catch phrase at the moment which is 'It's not just what you coach but how you coach'," he told NRL.com. 

"Everyone can have the same tactics, but how you coach and how you communicate and how you engage with people is very, very important.

"It's a professional development event for the coaches. The weekend was about giving them information and content to help them when they coach."

Helping to drive home the messages were former players Brett Kimmorley, Matt King and Anthony Minichiello who were joined by Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor and his Panthers counterpart Anthony Griffin as just some of the industry professionals at ANZ Stadium for the two-day conference. 

The flagship coaching event of the year was the culmination of plenty of hard work put in by NRL development staff who conducted over 500 coaching courses in 2016 for more than 5,600 coaches. 

"Our game development staff spend the year going out running courses to help people become coaches. People that came to this conference were already part of the system as certified coaches," Kurtz said. 

"We deliver a lot of contact face-to-face and then we also have resources online through PlayNRL.com that allow coaches to watch videos and learn in a more interactive way." 

One of the biggest takeaways from the weekend was that 10 per cent of the attendees were women, and Kurtz said the goal was to see that figure grow in the coming years. 

"Our focus is to try to get more females coaching, especially from a younger age. It's not a huge strategic push, but we're trying to break down any barriers that may be involved," Kurtz said. 

"We actually ran a bit of a competition where we offered 10 paid spots for female coaches to come along to the conference. People in club land sent in nominations for female coaches that they thought were worthy to come along. 

"We ended up selecting 10 and funding them to come to the conference and we had another 20 or so who came off their own bat which was really pleasing."

This article first appeared on NRL.com