By Ron Lane
With all our football codes struggling to overcome the hurdles of the virus, some 260 junior Dolphins rugby players are just raring to go. Aged between 6 and 17, they have already received their playing kits and this Saturday, at Dolphin Park at 8 am, the first team of the season will take to the oval: and the games will continue till 3pm.
With a total of 18 teams registered (with teams including boys and girls) a busy season is assured for players, administrators and above all parents. Apart from creating the opportunity to play this great game on a famous oval, it is also, and in some ways, most important of all, grooming the youth of today in the finer points of the game.
This will for some, see them achieve their dreams of playing A grade in the senior club and even go on to represent, not only their state, but also get to ware that most famous jersey of all- the Green and Gold of the Wallabies.
The overall governance of the senior and junior clubs, is each under a President: for the seniors it is Donald McKillip and the juniors, for the first ever, it is a woman, Zoe Griffen. When asked about the season ahead she answered with a laugh, “When the Dolphin juniors is run by a woman, how can it not be the best on the coast?” Gentlemen be warned here, is a lady who knows what she wants and where she is going.
Born in Sydney and educated at Loreto Kirribilli Convent, on graduating, she went on to study at the local University where she obtained her Bachelor of Education (specialising in Human Resources).
Following this, Zoe spent time in Sydney before travelling to London. “After a few years I got sick of the weather and returned home . I was not home for long when I met up with a Kiwi, a graphic designer named Tony: we married and now we are the proud parents of three kids Louie, Alfie and Annie. After a while, we both decided that Sydney was not for us: what we both wanted was a lot of fresh air and open spaces; and we thought Noosa was just fine. So in 2008 we settled here and could not be happier.”
For Zoe, her interest in Rugby started when she went to watch the Dolphins Rugby, with her husband and sons. It didn’t take long for her to become interested and after meeting up with the current junior president Rob Frey, she took a seat on the junior committee: now five years later, she not only stands as junior president, but in doing so has created history by being the first woman ever to achieve this position.
However, apart from being fully supported by committee partner in crime Hayden Thomas, the committee now has approximately, a 50/50 women to men ratio. In support of this, there is a good working relationship between the senior President, his deputy and Zoe. Add to this behind the present structure is the newly appointed Rugby Co-ordinator, Geno Costin. This man, despite his short time in office, has already made a big impression: observing senior and junior members, players, coaches and all involved, in what it takes, to ensure that, despite present problems, positive progress will be ongoing. “All range of players have benefited from his work and attitude.”
“One of the many key issues that we faced was the matter of coaches,” said Zoe. “In this we are very happy as we have a panel that is all qualified: for this we thank Queensland Rugby for providing coaching clinics. Then from u/13 and upwards we have non-parent coaches: everyone gets game time; and appropriate skills taught at appropriate levels. Most important of all, the kids are learning to love the game. The role played by the parents is of the utmost importance: we want to create a feeling of friendship and we want them to know, that their kids get the right coaching and training. In other words, create a second home, type environment.”
To help achieve this they have organised a training program with times to suit parents, The u/6 to u/12 train Friday pm and the u/13 to junior colts, train Tuesday and Thursday. “I will always encourage people, not be afraid to make changes when it is for the better of our club,” said Zoe
One thing that has impressed most officials, is that despite the situation, no parents have so far asked for a refund; this shows that despite the situation they are willing to stand by their club. “Noted and appreciated,” said Zoe
Regarding Zoe, retiring Junior President Rob Frey said, “With Zoe as president it will continue to ensure that the future of the game of Rugby is in good hands.” Senior club President Donald McKill added, “Zoe is very strong willed, runs a very tight ship and is our first ever lady president. Her management of the Covid-19 regulations for our club, was really outstanding. With so many young people involved, we could not have asked for more. I wish her well in the season ahead.”