Richards Joins Saints

CRAIG Richards has joined the Saints as Rugby League Coach Development Officer for St Helens.

His role is to provide a targeted support programme to the area’s coaches to ensure the talent development systems of our Community Clubs continue to bear fruit, Craig joins after working for GB Taekwondo as part of their Olympic programme to mentor and improve coaching.

“I’m originally from Yorkshire and played at Bradford, Oldham and finished at Hunslet,” Craig said. “From there I’ve coached at most levels of the pathway, worked with the Rugby Football League and Jamaica RL too and looked after coaches in Lancashire and Greater Manchester

“I’ve gained a lot of experience in what coaches want and need to ensure they continue to attract and produce talented youngsters to our game.

“My role here is to help develop the Community Club coaches by utilising the club’s and my own experience.

“One of the challenges in the current structure is we get players a little later in the pathway.

“I will be working with the coaches to upskill them in the St Helens way by providing support and any other information and guidance. That could simply be a different way of looking at skills or other facets of the game such as psychology.

“The key is also to ensure the game’s participation and retention remains high through the delivery of fun, challenging and developmentally appropriate practice environments.

“I believe that by focusing our energy and resources to deliver a world class coach development programme can play a large part in ensuring local talented players will continue to play leading roles in our future success.”

One of Craig’s first duties in his new role was to discover coaching values and philosophies in the area and implement a series of profiling exercises.

Next on the agenda will be to hold regular club meetings, share knowledge and enhance elite coaching behaviours through the introduction of workshops, coaching clinics and high profile speakers.

“This is important,” explains Craig whose role is supported by Sky Sports Rugby League Foundation. “We have a number of people within the club that are experts in their fields. For example, we could host sessions on Strength and Conditioning and utilise players that are specialist in an area of the game such as kicking.

“The key for me is to get out to the clubs, meet the coaches and see what their needs are. Ultimately, I will be judged long term by the standard of the players coming into the pathway as well as how well the coaches have progressed.

“My target audience will be the pre-14 age range and giving those coaches factual and practical help but I’m aware there are late developers in the game. Chunks of my time will also be spent with coaches who coach 14s to 18s and I will be an open door for open age coaches too.

“I will also be working with school teachers and coaches on our current pathway.”

From early meetings with the community coaches Craig is beginning to understand what is required and where he, and the club, can help.

“The coaches I’ve met are desperate for something and we are eager to help. They want to know what the club knows; they want to know why a player of theirs misses out on a club and why others make it.

“And we want to know what they know too as that will help us improve. I am looking forward to engaging with as many coaches as possible and building on the great work they have been delivering.”

If you’re a community club coach in the St Helens or Merseyside area then you can contact Craig here.

Craig (right) is pictured with Year 10 at Sutton Academy.

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