The next gen­era tion

For­mer All Black Kevin Se­nio has re­cently started at the NZRPA as a player ad­vi­sor, fo­cus­ing on sec­ondary school-aged rugby play­ers.

NZ Rugby World - First XV - - CONTENTS -

In my role, I have been vis­it­ing rugby-ori­en­tated schools and meet­ing with par­ents, teach­ers, stu­dents and other key peo­ple.

From those dis­cus­sions we are in the process of de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing a pro­gramme that will fo­cus on the fol­low­ing key ar­eas: ■ Im­por­tance of per­sonal holis­tic de­vel­op­ment ■ Aware­ness of some of the key risks and op­por­tu­ni­ties that young play­ers pro­gress­ing to the pro­fes­sional ranks will en­counter ■ Guide­lines on deal­ing with Agents, con­tracts, anti-dop­ing, sup­ple­ments, con­cus­sion, wa­ger­ing etc ■ Im­por­tance of seek­ing good ad­vice and mak­ing good de­ci­sions.

The pro­gramme will most likely in­volve past and cur­rent play­ers shar­ing their sto­ries. By us­ing real ex­am­ples from play­ers who have built ca­reers in the game, young stu­dents and par­ents can gain in­sight on what to ex­pect if they are for­tu­nate to en­ter the pro­fes­sional ranks.

We are in­creas­ingly con­scious that ex­pec­ta­tions of both play­ers and par­ents need to be man­aged. There is a need to keep things in per­spec­tive.

Par­ents and guardians can of­ten ap­pear to carry sense of ur­gency in re­gard to their chil­dren – they can be im­pa­tient for things to hap­pen quickly.

The in­creased media at­ten­tion at this level has added an el­e­ment of pres­sure and height­ened ex­pec­ta­tions. How­ever, there is al­ways a need to con­sider what is best for these young stu­dents. The pri­or­ity al­ways has to be the longer term. The sta­tis­tics and ev­i­dence con­tinue to show that not many play­ers will carve out a ca­reer in the game - hence the need to re­in­force the mes­sage of per­sonal de­vel­op­ment, seek­ing good, trusted ad­vice and mak­ing good de­ci­sions that keep mul­ti­ple ca­reer op­tions open.

We are aim­ing to de­liver pre­sen­ta­tions at schools in the North Is­land over the next few months and work our way down to the South Is­land.

While these road­shows are largely about us in­form­ing young men about pro­fes­sional rugby, we also hope that the NZRPA will deepen its un­der­stand­ing of what's hap­pen­ing within schools and their re­spec­tive rugby and ed­u­ca­tion en­vi­ron­ments.

Per­cep­tion and re­al­ity – in the case of in­di­vid­u­als and the var­i­ous en­vi­ron­ments - can be quite dif­fer­ent. As we build ex­pe­ri­ence in this fast-chang­ing area, the more it be­comes clear things are not al­ways black and white.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented to young play­ers are mostly out­stand­ing, but they and their par­ents still need to un­der­stand all the de­tails to max­imise the chance they have and avoid dis­ap­point­ments that could have been avoided had they known more in ad­vance.

We are par­tic­u­larly keen to en­sure par­ents and stu­dents re­ceive am­ple sup­port to make good de­ci­sions around schol­ar­ship op­tions. These can be su­perb op­por­tu­ni­ties for young men, but there needs to be an ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance be­tween ed­u­ca­tion, per­sonal de­vel­op­ment, rugby and fam­ily. Like­wise, those re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing schools' rugby en­vi­ron­ments are of­ten well-mean­ing and de­ter­mined for all of their boys to thrive. But some­times they too need to be en­cour­aged to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of pupils main­tain­ing bal­ance and putting rugby in con­text within the stu­dent's over­all de­vel­op­ment.

kevin se­nio

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