Monday, January 30

Coaching course to develop rugby in schools


RUGBY is poised for an interesting year as the much anticipated coaching course to be conducted by Cobra together with Penguins RFC from England and sponsored by CIMB, will start next week at Kolej DPAH Abdillah.This is a course conducted for many years across the waters and has finally reached our shores after a few years of deliberation.

It is mainly for school teacher-coaches and has proven very successful in the peninsula as seen by the rugby standards of the schools there.

The SRU has done its bit to develop the game in the schools through its annual schools 10’s tournament and technical assistance to the State Schools’ Sports Council and Education Department.

It has organised tournaments like the interschool and inter-division under 18, 15 and 12 over the years.

A Level One coaching course was held two years back by the SRU, with assistance from MRU, in its continuing efforts to improve the standard of rugby in the schools.

Cobra had been very keen to come over to conduct the course after witnessing the capabilities and performances of our state school players in tournaments across the water during the past few years.

They had, in fact, spoken about their intention with Zulkaranainhisham (Zul), the rugby technical chairman for schools in Sarawak but, somehow, due to various reasons like time constraint and scheduling, the course did not materialise till now.

Thanks should also be accorded to Dick Bentham, president of Kuching Rugby Football Club, who kick-started and made the course a reality this time around.

It all came about from Dick’s efforts to raise funds through sponsorship for KRFC 50th anniversary celebrations last year when he wrote to CIMB, the main sponsor of the course.

CIMB acted on and replied to Dick’s request for sponsorship by asking KRFC to run the course together with Cobra.

To cut a long story short, from this request for sponsorship, the idea of holding the course snowballed into reality this year.

I believe Sarawak is the last state to have this course as the other states across the water have been having it for many years, and Sabah has already been doing it for the past one to two years.

The course will be conducted by facilitators from Penguins RFC of England together with Cobra, assisted by SRU, KRFC and the State Education Department and sponsored by CIMB.

The course will be over five days – from Monday to Friday.

The SRU’s part will be coordination and providing equipment for the practical module.

It is quite a comprehensive course, involving theory and practical modules.

Participants will be taught the basics such as proper passing and receiving the ball, kicking, tackling, lifting in lineouts, scrum, positioning during kick-offs, free kicks and penalties.

In short, the whole gamut of coaching with the proper techniques and tactics, including warming up and stretching before training and games to avoid injuries.

The course will also enable the coaches to learn and understand the rules and laws of the game.

Participants will be given certificates at the conclusion of the course.

A total of 33 participants from schools throughout the state will be attending and housed at Kolej Abdillah except for those from Kuching unless they wish to stay in rather than travelling back and forth during the five days.

The teachers are from both secondary and primary schools.

After the course, they will be set the task of returning to their divisions and schools to coach their charges for the inter-school and interdivision tournaments later during the year.

Zul has, in fact, drawn up a full programme for the teacher-coaches attending the course.

A working committee, drawn from the SRU, KRFC, State Sports Council, Education Department and the teacher-coaches from Kolej DPAH Abdillah has been set up to coordinate the programme, including the coming course.

This programme will enable the teacher-coaches to hold mini leagues, involving their schools, during the year, assisted by the working committee, to monitor their progress.

It will also enable dissemination of information by the teacher-coaches to their charges, followed with a post mortem after the leagues to identify and rectify shortcomings.

The programme is yearlong, incorporating the divisional inter-school and inter-division tournaments and those organised by the State Schools’ Sports Council, SRU, KRFC and other SRU affiliates.

With the course, it is hoped there will be improvement in the standard of the game in the schools here vis-à-vis the technical and tactical aspects.

With this anticipated improvement, tournaments should be more exciting – unlike previous years when one or two schools dominated. With better coaching, the other schools will, at least, have a better chance to bring the game to their more experienced counterparts.

This should also allow for a wider pool of potential state players to be selected for national tournaments.

In the long run, the standard of the local game can only improve, hence standing the schools here in better stead when they go for national tournaments like the forthcoming Sukma – and also at the senior level when some of the school players join clubs in Kuching, Sibu and Miri after leaving school.

So things will be very interesting at the school level with the course and the programme drawn up to continue the work of the teacher-coaches who will be attending the course for the coming year and the future.

The course will not be one-off but an annual event with this year’s participants to be assessed on their performances and improvement next year while new teacher-coaches will attend the basic course in 2011.

A continuing exercise, it, hopefully, will bear fruit and see the game flourish in the schools in the coming years and ultimately, the senior club level when the school players who have been properly coached, go on to play for the various clubs in the state.

All this while, prior to this course and the one conducted two years ago, the schools that play the game have had to depend on the dedication and enthusiasm of the teachercoaches with assistance from former school players to prepare their teams for tournaments.

These teacher-coaches, some of whom are complete novices while some have just the rudiments of the game, have done their absolute best to develop and promote the game in their schools.

And against the odds, they have managed to produce some very good players and teams over the years, losing out to their more established counterparts because of their lack of the game’s fundamentals technically and tactically.

But they have learnt and picked up pointers from discussions with their fellow coaches and from the SRU and its affiliates.

So with the more structured knowledge that they will have received and gained from this course and that two years ago, they should be able to come up with more rounded and better prepared teams for tournaments this year and in the future.

So hopefully, rugby will be on its way to a better and brighter future.

Now, if only the game could get more funds from the government and sponsors from the private sector.

But then, that’s another matter altogether.

It is hoped with improved performances and standards following this course, sponsors might be more forthcoming in the future – say in the next two to three years?

According to Dick, the venerable Song Kheng Hai field, rugby’s home in the state, is still rather out of sorts.

This is due to the playing surface being not fully turfed and stony in some spots.

Club administrators have had a powwow with the MBKS and contractor to resolve the matter and apparently, it should be done by the next few weeks.

But meantime, Club players are still turning up to have pick-up games over the weekends, using just parts of the field.

So if anyone is interested in having a bit of a run about, they are welcomed.

The field is located behind the Everrise supermarket along Padungan Road and all that’s needed are a pair of sturdy shorts, boots and stockings as Club will be providing the jumpers.

Kick-off is usually at 4.30pm, so get yourself down there by then.

SRU president Haji Bujang Sapawi and his exco and committee extend their grateful thanks to CIMB, Cobra and Penguins RFC for taking time out to come and conduct the course and help develop and improve the game in the state.

And I hope that Col Wong of Cobra and the facilitators from Penguins RFC, Graham Lindsay, Simon Jones and Robert Clilverb will enjoy their stay in Kuching and bring home fond memories.