Forty-five national talent scouts made their way to Sydney from across the country last weekend for ARU’s annual scout workshop.
The workshop, which featured a talk by world-renowned swim coach and program manager Bill Sweetenham, was held to discuss talent identification and development systems as part of the ongoing work by ARU’s Pathway to Gold program.
Sweetenham, who took time out from the current Australian Olympic swimming trials in Adelaide to address the group, provided expert insight into what makes 'winning champions' and how to identify them. He also discussed his experienes as head of Australia’s swim program and highlighted that the defining features of a champion athlete often come down to character, attitude and commitment - elements constantly monitored in ARU's Pathway to Gold program.
Sweetenham continues to work with Australia's top swim coaches as part of the national swim program as well as supporting the ongoing development of AIS head coaches in his role with the Australian Sports Commission.
ARU High Performance Unit General Manager David Nucifora said up-skilling and educating the voluntary scout network is key to ensuring a recognised and respected presence on the ground at all key youth Rugby events and other sporting competitions.
"Different to many other sports and football codes in Australia, Rugby works on a national basis to identify and develop talent, Nucifora said.
“Having Bill Sweetenham address our scout network provides not only world leading talent development insight, but also provides specific expertise in preparing for an event such as the Olympics.
“The program ensures that the actual development of young players, both on and off the field is prioritised. This enables all players to reach their full potential on the field as well as assisting them to develop into fine young men and women.
"The program has been responsible for providing opportunities to many players that have gone on to earn FxPro Super Rugby and Qantas Wallabies caps - some of these players have even come from Rugby areas outside of the eastern states such as Adelaide.
“Our key Pathway to Gold programs - the Junior Gold Program and National Gold Squad - have increased numbers over the past 12 months to over 800 players nationally in the under-15 to under-18 age group. Combined with our Junior Gold Youth 7s program for boys and girls, we have been able to provide greater access to quality talent development programs for our youth players.
“The scout network ensures that we continue to strengthen these opportunities for young players, players that will be in line to represent Australia at significant events such as the 2016 Olympics where Men's and Women's Sevens will be part of the program for the first time.”
The talent scout network will ramp up its viewing schedules with club and school seasons about to commence, presenting a visible force at many youth Rugby events across Australia.
The Pathway to Gold is a national talent development program seeking to provide access and opportunities to male and female players across Australia. In doing so, the program identifies players for national development as they work toward their goals of representing the Qantas Wallabies, Wallaroos and Qantas Men’s and Women’s Sevens.