The Willoughby Roos Junior Rugby League Club in Northern Sydney are bounding ahead in popularity.
They owe a lot of that to the talents of one of their coaches, David Zimmer, who has helped take the Roos from 120 registered players in 2016 to 200 this year, including 70 female participants.
“And we see there will be more growth again next year,” Zimmer said, who has won the NSWRL Regional Volunteer of the Year Award for the Broken Bay Region.
David coaches two teams at the Willoughby Roos - the Under 10s in the boys and Under 15 girls in Monarch Blues Tag.
Luckily for him, they train on the same night (Thursday) and play on the same day (Saturday), but often at different grounds.
“It is challenging obviously but I enjoy both so much,” he said.
“The boys are full of energy but a lot of them have been playing for a few years so sometimes, they think they know it all.
“And the girls have this crazy energy which is what keeps me going. They’re so willing to learn because they’ve not played before – it’s just an infectious combination.
“So, there’s a really big difference between the two (genders) but it’s all amazing fun.”
David is also the Coaches and Managers Coordinator, Club Secretary, and Deputy Chairman North Sydney JRLFC board (bringing together eight clubs), as well as his team coaching duties.
He is also a father of two, and was nominated by his wife, Jodi, who pointed out he never neglected his family life despite putting in 40 hours-plus a week with his football duties.
It all started when Jodi and David’s son Max joined the Roos as a four-year-old in 2016 with the Under 6s.
“He went up in age group and there was no coach there, so I started the coaching journey and it just snow-balled from there,” David said.
“It’s helping all the kids become better people both through sport and through their teammates. They build on that mateship together and become strong little units – their willingness to improve and succeed keeps me focused. It’s great to see.”
Did we mention that David also works full-time in the financial services sector as a project manager?
How he fits it all in is one thing, but he does. His corporate mind and problem-solving techniques have worked well in Junior Rugby League – his reputation as a junior coach is growing too.
“We have had a number of new kids join Under 10s this year after word of mouth had spread of not only David's ability to coach but also his way of getting the best out of his players, and making it a fun, inclusive environment where kids are thriving,” Jodi said in her nomination statement.
“They are getting fitter, healthier and in some cases where kids have been struggling due to outside influences, there has been a massive improvement with their mental health.”