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‘I just love seeing kids playing footy’

Woods with his Mossman Sharks under 7s.
Woods with his Mossman Sharks under 7s.

‘I just love seeing kids playing footy’

Author : Cameron Stallard QRL content producer

It can be said Nathan Woods’ coaching philosophy epitomises what junior rugby league is all about.

Affectionally known as ‘Woodsie’ by his Mossman Sharks family, the under 7 and 15s coach loves turning up week-in, week-out quite simply because it’s fun and he makes a difference.

The 47-year-old’s attitude, determination and dedication to unite kids together from all walks of life has earned him this year’s BHP Community Coach of the Year accolade.

Residing on a property just outside Mossman – located 75 kilometres north of Cairns, the passionfruit and papaya farmer played his junior footy with the Sharks before moving south to Cairns Brothers to play seniors. One year after he finished up playing, he discovered his new passion for the greatest game of all after being asked to help out.

“I initially tried my hand at coaching in the senior ranks up here a couple of years earlier but I got disinterested in that,” Woods said.

“I finished playing footy in 2006 and in that final year, someone asked me if I could give them a hand with the juniors. I enjoyed it that much so signed up again the next year and have just kept going from there.

“When I first started, I was helping the under 11 and under 14s, so I liked the older age groups, but I took on the younger age groups because the coach wanted to give someone else a go at coaching them and enjoyed that aspect too.

“I guess I do like coaching the older kids because you can muck around and joke around with them a bit more… you can also see them progress heaps better and get right into their heads, but coaching the young kids, you can have a lot more fun with them.

“The stress is different with both teams. With my under 15s I’m coaching this year, the stress is always at games whereas the stress is at training with my under 7s because they’re all over the shop.

“But as long as you have fun with them, it’s always pretty good.”

Spending more than 15 hours each week at training and games, the Mossman coach isn’t phased by how long he spends with the clipboard in his hand given the joy it brings to work with kids of all ages.

“It’s only Sundays and Mondays that I’m not involved in footy,” Woods said.

“But it’s just something I like to do and something I’ve done so long now, so I just think it’s part of my life now.

“Sometimes you can feel like not wanting to go to footy training on particular days, but then you turn up and have a great day and its all good again, so it brings you attitude up.

“It can bring it down too, but most of the time it gets up at footy training and games.

“It’s a bit of a release for me as well.”

Woods with his Mossman Sharks under 7s.

Woods with his Mossman Sharks under 7s.

Woods’ positive and enthusiastic approach each week allows the opportunity to educate players in not only rugby league, but morals, team building, self-confidence and life skills, shying them away from negativity.

“You hope you can steer them in the right direction and keep them on the straight and narrow… I think playing footy is the best way to keep them focused and away from all the crap that goes on,” Woods said.

“I just enjoy seeing them progress and I just love seeing kids playing footy. That’s the reason I got into coaching.

“I don’t want to see rugby league fall by the wayside, I’d like to see kids playing footy the whole time and enjoy it for the reasons I enjoyed it because I just loved playing it.

“I just had so much fun and that’s what I want kids to learn out of it.”

Just happy to continue chipping away at inspiring the next generation in Mossman, Woods is hoping other coaches across Queensland can adapt a similar philosophy to his to maximise their enjoyment in the game.

“The biggest thing is to make sure you’re having fun,” Woods said.

“If the kids are having fun and you’re having fun, you’ll keep doing it forever because you don’t want to do anything that’s not fun and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learnt the last couple of years.

“When I first started coaching the under 6 and 7 age groups, it was sort of frustrating for me, but then the next year I took them on, I had a lot more fun with them and enjoyed it a lot more and I think a lot of coaches have to do that… try and have as much fun as they can.

“If you’re having fun, you’ll want to keep sticking with it.”

In recognition of his fantastic contribution, Woods receives $500 thanks to BHP; corporate affairs manager Melita Shirley said they were honoured to recognise dedicated grassroots coaches.

“BHP is proud to support community rugby league in Queensland and help recognise the hard-working coaches who volunteer countless hours each week to keep their local club thriving,” Shirley said.

“It’s always wonderful to hear about the fantastic contributions community coaches have made across Queensland and there have been some inspirational applicants for the 2021 acknowledgement.

“Although it was tough to single out a winner for this year’s honour, the hours of dedication Nathan has spent coaching various junior teams at Mossman is nothing short of amazing and his passion to unite his area’s diverse population through sport be should be celebrated.

“Coaches like Nathan are truly the lifeblood of the community and we couldn’t be more proud to recognise these volunteers through the BHP Community Coach of the Year award.”

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