For volunteers Jai Midolo from the Riverstone Razorbacks, and Cindy Brookfield from Kiama Junior Rugby League, it’s all about the smiles.
The pair have been named NSWRL Male and Female Community Coach of the Year for 2022.
Both have sons and daughters involved at each club, which led them to put up their hands and help in the day-to-day running of the teams.
But it’s the sense of satisfaction, pride and achievement on the faces of the kids they coach each week that keeps the duo relishing their roles at their respective Junior Rugby League clubs.
“My main focus is to keep them in the game really – so it’s all about having fun when they’re that little,” said Midolo.
“And it seems to be working. Last year we had 12 kids and every single one came back this year apart from one, who moved to Queensland, as part of 25 kids I have now.
“It’s so rewarding. You have a hard day at work, but you go to training and see the smiles on the faces.”
Brookfield, who has 13-year-old son Jett and 15-year-old daughter Koffi at Kiama JRLC and coaches the Under 16s girls tackle team and Under 15s girls League Tag team, answered a call to arms after noticing the club needed some volunteers.
“I took it on because my personality is that if something needs to be done, let’s get it done,” she said.
Brookfield is also Club Registrar for Kiama.
“Over the years I’ve absolutely loved seeing a pathway develop for girls – and other people have been blazing that trail as well,” she said.
“I love seeing girls come in with different personalities and you watch them grow and support each other and work together. You can tell that by the smiles each week.
“I feel like sport harvests really great friendships for boys and girls and that can last and last.”
The club’s nomination form praised Brookfield for being such a positive role model for females.
“Cindy has been a key stakeholder in establishing a competition for the girls and without her commitment and dedication, our girls would not have had the opportunity to participate and excel in a sport they all love,” the club said.
The NSWRL award encourages parents at clubs to recognise an outstanding coach, who really helps the players.
Midolo, who coaches three Under 6s team, has had a long family involvement with the Razorbacks. He started playing with them when he was six, his dad is a former player while his wife’s grandfather is also a life member at the club.
“There’s a bit or rich history for our family with the club,” Midolo said.
For his three U6s teams at the Razorbacks he creates training drills to teach them the tackle-ready program. His two sons Phoenix, 4, and Logan, 5, are at the club.
Midolo initiated a ‘Player of the Match’ award reaching out to Riverstone’s sponsor manager, who found a local cafe to support the idea for the Under 6s.
“He ensures all players can make it to the game, so he tries to organise and assist with transport, he encourages parent support and participation as the children are so young,” the club said after nominating Midolo.
“He is very much a family man and Riverstone is his family. He tries to help the club in any way possible by being in the committee, green shirt, helping in the BBQ, getting to the grounds early to set up and not leave until the day is done and everything is packed away.”