Jets development manager shares ‘eye-opening’ experience
PREPARING for a more settled 2021 rugby league season, Steve Brown is confident an eye-opening experience will help him more in his valuable regional work.
The Ipswich Jets development manager is busy planning multiple aspects for the next year, including working with the Mal Meninga, Under-18 and Colts programs, as well as assisting club coaches and finalising contracts.
He has just completed his second season in that Jets role, having previously worked for 11 years in education and development with the Queensland Rugby League and National Rugby League.
However, what has him more excited about the future is having a season also assisting Ipswich State High School male and female players.
He spent two days a week inside the professionally run Ipswich State High Rugby League Academy focused on girls football development and offering advice for the senior boys players.
Ipswich State High's open team made the semi-finals of the prestigious Langer Cup competition.
"With the school system, it's been a real eye-opener to be entrenched in the school,'' Brown said, praising the professionalism of what head coach Josh Bretherton and his team does.
"As compared to just being around the edges.
"You think you know how those school programs and that work until you are actually there, two days a week, working for the school . . . and then see the complete ins and outs.
"Apart from the football and the training, the other side of what the boys are doing, whether recruiting and dealing with managers and NRL clubs trying to get the boys to start somewhere. Getting them through all their schooling and family issues.''
Brown said before this year, he only had a partial picture of a progressive school system.
"Working for the school and seeing the full inner workings . . . and what you can and can't do and what goes on . . . it's been really beneficial.''
Brown said it was satisfying seeing how the Ipswich State High students were supported away from football.
"They (the teachers) do a great job and not only around the footy but everything they are doing for the kids in their general lives,'' he said.
The Ipswich Jets also have a history of helping footballers with troubled backgrounds or who need a job or study support.
Brown said spending time between school and club football was important, especially with the Jets being in Mal Meninga and Colts competitions, feeding into the Queensland Cup.
"With the boys it gives them that good link to come and play the Mal Meninga and Colts when they finish with the school, which is good,'' he said.
Reflecting on a productive season after the COVID shutdown, Brown also enjoyed working with Ipswich State High teacher Veronica White, a former Australian Jillaroo with more than 20 years experience.
"A big part of what I was doing was helping get the girls program going to the next level,'' he said.
Brown and White focused on girls predominantly in years seven, eight and nine where rugby league was a school subject.
"Some have played club footy but some of them have come into the program through the school,'' he said.
"They came a long way this year.
"The under 13s and the under 15s improved out of sight in a range of areas.
"Not just on field but their training and their reliability, being on time. Their attitudes were always really good.''
Brown also assisted the Ipswich State High senior boys program when he could.
"When the open's boys were training, I'd go down and anything I could see or offer any advice, I'd have a chat with them,'' he said.
He's pleased to see a number of Ipswich State High players involved in next year's Jets teams.
The Jets Instrust Super Cup, Mal Meninga and Colts teams have begun pre-season training.
The club's under-16 boys start in January.