Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett was a surprise guest at the recent launch of Schools Ambassadors Program in Perth, sharing stories with representatives from schools from Western Australia who had gathered to learn more about growing the game.
Held before the NRL double header event at Optus Stadium which saw the Dolphins go down narrowly to the Knights and the Sharks find form against the Rabbitohs, General Manager NRL WA John Sackson said Bennett’s attendance was a treat for the assembled guests.
“Wayne’s attendance was a total surprise to the guests and he was both inspirational and generous with his time addressing the group,” Sackson said.
“You could have heard a pin drop.”
The Schools Ambassadors Program is a new NRL national initiative that was officially launched in February this year to help school staff better support students in the classroom and on the footy field.
The WA launch on Saturday saw 50 teachers invited to connect with NRL staff as part of the project that shares the latest information in programs, accreditation and opportunities for students. Ambassadors are also eligible for additional support and rewards throughout the year.
“It was fantastic to have someone of Wayne’s calibre in the room and we are thankful to Wayne for giving up his time on game day,” Lead Game Development Officer – Western Australia Gus Marshall said.
“Wayne spoke about the importance of the role that teachers play in young children’s lives and mentioned that sometimes, students do not receive support from anywhere else and may just need a helping hand to achieve their dreams.
“Wayne also discussed that coaching and teaching go hand-in-hand, and he is a teacher, specifically of rugby league. He put a big emphasis on building relationships with students, allowing them to succeed and be unique as individuals.
“He spoke to them around the important role that rugby league can play in the lives of young children, and how the teachers can use our sport as a vehicle to develop the youth of today.”
Marshall said the expansion of the School Ambassador Program into Western Australia would help grow the game through the level of support the teachers receive.
“The launch specifically showed our appreciation of the current ambassadors and was a reward for their hard work over various amounts of time,” Marshall said.
“Through the Ambassador program, the ambassadors will receive support, education and information that they can put into practise and deliver to their students to deeply engage them within the sport of rugby league.”
General Manager - School Participation Andrew Peach said the NRL were really proud of the connections that were being built in schools throughout Australia.
“The School Ambassador Program is a great opportunity for school staff to engage with the NRL to gain resources for classroom work, while also staying connected with us for prizes, competitions and some great experiences like the one the team just hosted in Perth,” Peach said.
Sign up for the NRL’s national School Ambassador Program at PlayRugbyLeague.
Main image: Wayne Bennett and School Ambassador Program lead Kurt Mangan address the audience in Perth. Photo: supplied