The Dyldam Parramatta Eels hosted the 2016 District Representative Squads (SG Ball and Harold Matthews) Induction Night earlier this week (Tuesday, 20 October) at the Parramatta Leagues Club.
Welcoming the selected athletes from the District Representative squads ahead of the 2016 season, the players and their families heard from Dyldam Parramatta Eels Chairman Steve Sharp, Head Coaches Nathan Cayless and Scott Jones, Parramatta staff Coordinator Recruitment - Elite Programs Anthony Field and Coaching Development - Elite Programs Craig Wilson and PNRL Welfare Education Manager - Matthew Francis as they outlined their involvements with the teams and what lied ahead in the next few months before the season gets underway.
“The SG Ball and Harold Matthews programs are integral to our pathways system, through to the NYC program and onto the NRL. They whole process is a bit of a fact-finding mission, finding out more about the player in terms of their athletic development, the type of person they are and how resilient they are and whether they can handle to process to go through to the elite level.” Field said.
“The squad will be up for some hard training with staff who are highly qualified, and probably over qualified for their position given their level of what they are coaching and overseeing in terms of physical performance and football coaching.”
“It will be very demanding and the kids will be constantly requested that their first effort is their best effort” Field said of the weeks ahead.
Apart from developing the players’ skills on the field, the Eels work closely with each individual athlete throughout the season, providing vital support and knowledge off the field in the areas of welfare, education, mental health and career progression.
“The off-field is becoming increasingly more essential. The off-field performance, welfare, education and the career coaching (employment and tertiary education) and those kind of areas are vital. If we have a good kid off the footy field, they are settled and balanced, we get a good better football player and a better person,” Field said.
“Along with Career Coach Dean Feeney, we will be presenting a number of workshops to the players at this level to help them prepare a career path away from football as well as some personal development workshops that will help them make good decisions, in terms of their career and personal lives,” Francis added.
“This is all part of Parramatta’s commitment to the holistic development of players.”
“As much as we hope that all these players will progress to the NRL level, the reality is that only 15-20% may make it, therefore it’s important for them to maintain a balance between their rugby league ambitions and their school and post school careers.” Francis added.
“There is a very strong correlation between players who achieve off the field, being equally successful on the field. Two great examples are Eels NYC players Alex Twal and Tyrell Fuimaono who this year played for the Junior Kangaroos whilst excelling in their university studies.”
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have a long and proud history in both the SG Ball and Harold Matthews competition with the Blue and Gold claiming 11 SG Ball Premierships – the most in the Cup’s 44 year history and 18 Harold Matthews Premierships, and the 2013 National Final (against the Queensland premiers).