Gympie rugby league: 'We have to change'
THE Gympie Devil's season may be over but those in the game have not stopped thinking about how to improve.
Gympie Devils president Darren Burns is searching for answers to the problems facing the game.
"The year was disappointing,” Burns said.
"For obvious reasons, we had to pull the under-18s out, we just didn't have enough numbers each week.”
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Burns said the senior men's team battled it out in the Sunshine Coast second division despite ongoing problems with player numbers.
"The second division side battled on all year,” he said.
"There were two or three forfeits. Not surprising but still disappointing, but it's a sign of the times.”
The struggle with players is region wide, and from first glance it seems to be an affliction across sporting codes with the Cats (AFL), Hammers (rugby union) and Diggers(football), all having problems with player numbers at some point during the season.
"We take heart it is not isolated to Gympie,” Burns said.
"It's not something we are doing, across the regions the numbers are down.
"We have some great committee members, some great support staff and volunteers, and some great players at the club.
"Those people in those three groups give me confidence moving forward and that we can improve in the future.”
Burns said the club has healthy numbers in junior ranks, but teenagers drop out of the sport at around the age of 15.
The challenge now is how to enact change the game needs.
"It's a combination of coaches, which can lead to a bad experience which can push players away,” Burns said.
"And parents, who put expectations on their children and those expectations can hurt kids.
"I am not a huge fan of representative teams under the age of 15, if a young player doesn't make a rep side at that age then they think they can't make the broncos.”
Burns said players often leave to play somewhere else.
"They have a mindset that Gympie is going to hold them back,” he said.
"The issues we are having here are the same issues at other clubs, but players think the grass is greener on the other side.
"They think they need to be at a bigger club to make it. But what's making it?”
Burns should know a thing or two about making it at an elite level, having represented the Broncos and a host of other NRL clubs.
"From the seniors point of view we just have to keep moving forward and trying,” he said.
"From the community point of view, I think everyone has a role and responsibility to play.
"Some sit back and whinge there's nothing to do here in town, but if you get in and help, volunteer and give something back you can create communities.
"I was out at Dalby and they had a ticker-take parade for their AFL, rugby league (three teams) and rugby union teams, who all won premierships.
"That's the kind of community we need to build.”
Burns now faces the end of season Sunshine Coast rugby league meeting, and he said he will voice his opinions.
"At the end of the day, I'm a big believe that if you do the same thing and expect results its not going to happen,” he said.
"Changes have to be made.
"What the changes are, who knows?
"But we have to change.”