Sport / 23rd December 2021
Giving youth another option
A former Australian Jillaroo is doing her bit to help the Coonabarabran youth.
Poi Birtles runs a free program, “DK21”, in Coonabarabran each Friday afternoon to assist with rugby league skills and fitness.
The program commenced earlier in the year, but has been run off the rails a couple of times due to COVID-19.
Before restrictions hit, Ms Birtles had up to 60 children taking part each week.
And then the COVID spanner was thrown in the works and due to new safety rules, only 20 children were allowed to gather at the town’s Number 1 Oval each week.
“It’s a massive shame, because we had so many kids taking part and we were getting on a bit of a roll,” Ms Birtles said.
“But hopefully we are on the back end of all the COVID restrictions and we can get back to having as many kids here as we want.”
While Ms Birtles said the program was based around rugby league, it served a wider purpose for the youth of Coonabarabran.
“It was about keeping kids active after school,” she said.
“Even though it’s rugby league based, we have some children from the other codes, like rugby union, just picking up some more skills.
“And some kids are just using it for a bit of fun and fitness.”
Ms Birtles said she came up with the idea for the program after moving to Coonabarabran and noticing the skill difference in the age groups compared to that of city kids.
And while the course is based on fitness and skills, it also works toward teaching the participants about mental resilience.
“The program is named after Dane Kershaw, someone who a lot of the community look up to and strive to push through barriers and pain like no one else has been through from grassroots to life outcomes.
Another mentor who helps out is Dani Rogers.
“He brings a wealth of military-style command and respect to our program’s fitness training, organising and running the fitness for our youth.”
Children under 10 will commence back to regular program training from term one of 2022.
In the meantime, a fitness boot camp will be held on 17 and 18 of January.