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NRL introduces new junior participation program
The success of junior participation programs in other Australian sporting codes has motivated the NRL look at new grassroots initiatives with aim of nurturing the next generation of league fans and players.
League Stars, a new introductory participation program for children aged five to 12 years, has been operating across the country over recent weeks and new figures show that 81% of those involved are actually new to the game of rugby league.
By introducing the sport to new participants, the game has the opportunity to develop new fans, but also to develop players and lead them into elite pathway programs, according to the NRL's General Manager of Commercial and Digital Strategy, Todd Hewitt.
Hewitt told the Ministry of Sport podcast "this is something the NRL has been focused on over the last two or three years and there are a couple of reasons why we have established it.
“One is, if the kids are more involved in the sport from a participation point of view, then they’re far more likely to become fans.
“But, it is also highly important to have kids involved from a participation perspective to continue to feed players through to the elite system.”
The game as a whole is also in a strong position with 170,000 ‘registered’ rugby league participants across both junior and senior rugby league, an increase of 3.5%.
There are also an additional 680,000 Touch Football participants – as a result, the sport is able to connect with 850,000 participants throughout Australia.
Other highlights from the last full year participation numbers were as follows:
• National participation has increased by 3.5% in 2018
• Female participation is up 29% to 16,337 (fastest-growing segment in rugby league and doubled in the past three years)
• 16.7% growth in Western Australia, and record participation levels in Victoria
• 8.1% increase in ages seven and under
• 13.5% increase in registered volunteers from 8,091 to 9,187, and an 18% rise in the number of registered coaches from 3,103 to 3,581
The NRL is currently seeking a naming rights partner for the League Stars junior participation program.
18th October 2019 - Unanimous vote backs rugby league in NSW being governed by one body
11th October 2019 - Plans for Melbourne Rugby League Centre of Excellence move forward
4th September 2019 - New training and recreational space for NRL Cowboys House
21st August 2019 - Queensland Government claims $20 million economic boost from NRL Magic Round
19th August 2019 - NRL hit by declining broadcast viewing figures
4th August 2019 - Court hears that NRL off season incidents have ‘ruined’ Telstra’s brand
15th June 2019 - Telstra expands NRL deal to include women’s rugby league
27th May 2019 - NSWRL claims rise in rugby league participation
22nd November 2018 - Children the stars in campaign to promote junior rugby league
20th September 2018 - NRL advises of rise in rugby league participation through 2018
23rd May 2018 - NRL advises of rising crowd figures
27th March 2018 - Strategic Plan launched to guide the future of rugby league
8th December 2016 - Landmark study finds sport struggling to keep youth engaged
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