Norths juniors taught to be good teammates while having fun
AS a talented Ipswich sportsman in a dedicated regional family, Marcus Hillier thrived with his competitive nature.
However, after finishing his first grade cricket career, the former Marburg premiership winner and Northsiders all-rounder is enjoying a new challenge - coaching junior footy.
Hillier recently returned to co-coach the Norths Blue under-9 rugby league team with golf professional Scott Berry.
While providing an enjoyable environment for the Norths juniors is a priority, Hillier and Berry have other goals.
"We're just trying to get the kids to compete in everything . . . and having fun,'' Hillier said.
"That's the biggest thing. And being a good teammate.''
The young side guided by Hillier and Berry is one of three Norths teams in this year's Rugby League Ipswich junior competition.
The other sides are Norths Gold and Norths Tigers.
The Norths Blue team includes three players from Karalee and a newcomer from hockey, enhancing the team spirit for the players and co-coaches.
"They're a good bunch of kids,'' Hillier said.
"They're starting to get a little bit older now so we can do more drills with them.
"They are a good age group (to work with).''
The kids are also starting to learn new rules and better passing skills.
Hillier had a long association with cricket, sharing in Marburg's 2001 grand final before 15 seasons with Northsiders.
While he always appreciated playing and coaching in cricket, he said working with rugby league youngsters in recent seasons provided a new outlet.
"I find the footy, you can do a bit more with them,'' he said.
That's largely due to rugby league being more team based on the field rather than individuals performing as part of a team.
The Norths juniors play on Saturday mornings with eight kids on the field at once.
The competition resumed recently after tremendous efforts by Rugby League Ipswich and regional club officials to salvage a 10-week series.
"We only had two weeks training,'' Hillier said. "Now they are going really good.
"We've having improvement each week with them.''
As someone who loves sport, Hillier shares what parents often enjoy most.
He said seeing the smiles on the kids' faces highlighted how important it was for young people to be running around.
"That is the one good thing about coaching the footy, the juniors,'' he said. "They all just want to be there.
"It's different to coaching the older cricket or footy. With the juniors, you always get them down there and they just want to rock up and play sport.
"You're never worried about having enough players on a Saturday morning.''