An acclaimed Newcastle-based sports coach, and his business partner, have refined their sports participation and club development programs and have plans to take them to other parts of regional NSW.
Todd Louden and, Callan Walker, have re-developed GRRA8 as part of a personal mission to tackle the decline in sports club participation and the increasing lack of movement by young kids.
Todd said the program goes old school to go forward using old-style schoolyard games (such as ‘Bugs & Spiders’) and multiple ball types to encourage enjoyment of and skills in movement in both girls and boys. Game basics such as catching, passing, running, kicking and tracking are also taught. A unique element of the program is concurrent sessions for parents and club officials with topics that include youth health and wellbeing, mentoring and leadership as well as financial planning and management to help boost club sustainability.
He said the program is based on best practice participation and performance structures but is flexible to allow it to meet a particular club or region’s needs. It runs for between four and six weeks with a one-hour session each week on a designated evening.
GRRA8 was first established with a focus on rugby.
“We’ve changed the program to support all sports with a focus on regional and country centres,” Todd said.
“My experience with coaching kids and coaching at the top level is that as people increasingly spend time on devices we are seeing an increase in incomplete basic movement skills,” he said.
GRRA8 is a not for profit organisation supported by the Australian Sports Foundation. Todd said support from philanthropists and organisations, such as new partner Greater Building Society, help make the program cost effective for clubs. It is seeking additional sponsors or (tax deductible) donations to expand its services.
Greater Building Society community engagement manager Ingrid Kaczor encouraged other business and clubs to get behind said GRRA8. The Greater is helping GRRA8 to take the program beyond the Hunter too.
She said aside from the name synergies, GRRA8 fits The Greater’s focus on community and improving the lives of families. The Greater is the major community partner for the Newcastle Jets and supports grass root sport through sponsorship of the Hunter Academy of Sport, local netball associations, Merewether Surfboard Club, Newcastle and Hunter Rugby, Hunter District Cycling Club and the Greater Fun Run Series.
“Sport is a great way to improve health, teach people skills and make our community greater,” Ingrid said.
GRRA8 also provides coach think tanks, club health checks and club development programs.
Todd moved to the Hunter five years ago. He had an extensive Super Rugby coaching career domestically and overseas including with the Melbourne Rebels. He is a former teacher and was the architect of the Sydney University Elite Development Squad, considered Australia’s largest rugby nursery. Callan is a long time Newcastle resident. He has degrees in law, marketing and communications and sports management. He is an experienced player agent and sports marketing consultant.
The new program kicks off at No 2 Sportsground, Newcastle, on Friday February 12 from 5.30. The Greater’s GRRA8 program runs for five weeks and costs $75. A few places remain. Register via grra8.com.au.
Image | Todd Louden