Junior league problems

ONE of my football acquaintances pointed out an error last week in competing newspaper 'The Independent.'

Under the heading 'Junior Rugby League', the newspaper detailed a story on junior rugby union.

Hey, there is a difference but one only expects that type of mistake to be made in Victoria where they not only don't know the difference, they don't want to know.

Not that I'm gloating.

Even we can infrequently make such errors.

But I doubt it would happen with junior soccer or AFL football.

They've got their act together and it makes me cringe ? even grind my teeth in frustration at how poorly our sport presents itself at junior level in the media.

I gave up trying to cajole, encourage, threaten etc. a change in attitude years ago.

The usual response is we in the media should do all the work.

Get real!

Tried that, and turned away even more frustrated than before.

The AFL and especially soccer, continually bust the door down making it easy for us to promote their sport and they've got switched on people doing the job of publicity and promotion.

Murray Archibald (rugby), Chris McKinley (AFL) and any one of a dozen soccer correspondents are the best in the business and I have great admiration for them.

Who have we got with a high profile spreading the gospel and showing the world how we are growing our sport?

Development officer Cyndy Currie has the knowledge and background to do a superb job but even she will face moments of anguish unless both the heriarchy and grass roots get of their bums and ramp up the promotion.

She can't and shouldn't be expected to do all the work while others look on.

A couple of years ago I asked McKinley in a radio interview how he'd managed to make so much headway into rugby league heartland territories like Bellingen and Wauchope.

"The league people in those areas are asleep at the wheel," Macca said without hesitation.

Talk about not knowing reality till you're on the outside looking in.

Every time the recent plight of Bello was raised I remembered that comment.

I thought of it last week when reminded of the time Bowraville and Nambucca juniors approached the Magpies offering to assist getting a club underway around Urunga.

"We'll get back to you," they were told, and that was the last they heard.

The comment jogged my memory again when Shane Webcke said he'd be working to 'promote junior bush football' in retirement.

Good on you Shane.

I give it 12 months before you give up, disillusioned at the nodding heads, the lip service and the do-nothing brick wall you run into.

We continually see figures released proving the upward spiral of participation rates in competing codes.

Our bigwigs break out into an orgy of self-congratulation if our figures manage not to drop.

Any day soon there'll be a slow news weekend and the 'Sunday Telegraph' will do it's annual centrespread spiel on the dire straits of bush league.

All the usual suspects will nod their heads in agreement, promise help, then do nothing.

Will things change?

I hope so but I doubt it.

You'll probably be reading this same story on this page next year, and the year after, and the year after that.

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