Ex Australian rugby league star Andrew Johns says he ‘cringes’ when he hears parents shouting at their children in junior matches.
The former Newcastle player spent some time alongside his old team-mate Danny Buderus in Hastings recently putting local youngsters through their paces.
The teenagers took a lot away from the sessions, and Johns’ main message is that junior rugby league should be about one thing – fun.
“You tend to live in a bit of a bubble so you don’t see footy at grassroots, but it’s good to see so many kids out there and how they love playing the game,” he said.
“We all agree there needs to be more done at grassroots level so it’s good for us to help the kids out.”
Johns insists that at junior level, there needs to be less emphasis on winning, and more on enjoyment from coaches and parents.
“I’ve got an eight-year-old who’s playing and sometimes you hear parents and coaches screaming at the kids,” he said.
“It makes me cringe because at that age it’s all about having fun.”
The 43-year-old believes that organisers in youth sport have a vital role to play in keeping teenagers focused so that they stay involved in their chosen sport.
“I don’t think it’s just about rugby league, it’s other sports as well where you get to that age and you start to do other things,” he added.
“We need to keep them focused and interested in the game, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”