By Erick Elefante, Date: 26/5/13
Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) board member Tom Simpson was supposed to have retired to the province of Zambales with his family last March. But instead he and his wife Marlyn have been busy laying the foundations of junior Rugby League development in the Philippines. One could rightly say that they are the Mother and Father of Philippines junior Rugby League.
For the last couple of days now Marlyn and Tom have been busy setting up the front yard of their beach front home at San Narciso which is a small fishing village in the province of Zambales to enroll the PNRLâ€™s first junior Rugby League players.
Mindful that this is seasonally the hottest time of the year in the Philippines, the couple made sure that shelter was provided for the local parents and children at registration day. This is the great thing about Marlyn and Tom they are always thoughtful about others! As well as shelter, they provided refreshments as well. Being the Philippines you can never organize an event without food. With Tom chiming in, in his typical Australian ocker humour:
â€œthat will be our grandstand hehe both sides will be full when training startsâ€
â€œwe supplied lots of cold water and juice and gave them pandesal, a good morning
had by allâ€
Tom actually commenced training the local children 2 months ago in March. May 25 was the day the children were officially registered into teams:
â€œthe sand was sooooo hot and most of the boys donâ€™t own sand shoes but they
loved it, we will cap the numbers at around 75 players enough for 2 teams for each 7,8,9,10,and 11, 12 have 12 players each team.â€
Tom believes that the Philippines will develop into a nursery for Rugby League in the coming years and he is not wrong in that sentiment with three Filipino-heritage Rugby League players plying their trade in the elite National Rugby League (NRL) competition in Australia. In Matt Srama and Kevin Gordon with the Gold Coast Titans and Andrew Everingham with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, a fourth Filipino-heritage Rugby League player, Shane Gray will probably also make his NRL debut before the end of the season with the Gold Coast Titans.
Marlyn and Tom are hoping that Rugby League provides a positive outlet for the San Narciso children, many of whom donâ€™t go to school, because they are too poor to afford to go to the local school. With many living in traditional Nipa huts made out of bamboo logs and thatched roofs, without running water or electricity. So it must have been a treat for the local children when Tom brought out his television onto the beach so that he could show them a game of Rugby League.
Mindful of laying solid foundations for the development of local Rugby League Tom has recruited local Fathers, Harold John Aguilo and Edmond Brocoy who he will put through a Level 1 Rugby League coaching certificate over the next 16weeks.
Tom and the PNRL are grateful for the support of Tas Baitieri and the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) for the donation of coaching manuals and training gear with 50kg worth of gear arriving in July.
PNRL board members living in the Philippines like Tom have been doing their Rugby League development work as volunteers, with no financial support. The PNRL is eager to find financial support to continue their work. So any enquiries and offers of support can be directed to the contact details that is located on the PNRL website www.pnrlf.com