Philippines Rugby League
Philippines Rugby League

By Erick Elefante, Date:9/7/13

Tom and Marlyn Simpson were supposed to have retired to La Paz beach in San Narciso, Zambales. But instead they’ve been laying the foundations for Rugby League the “Greatest Game of All” at this picturesque fishing town in the Philippines.

Working when you have supposed to have retired has infected other members of the Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) board. With PNRL board member Chris Van Putten also working whilst supposedly on holidays with his wife to the Philippines, by giving Tom a helping hand, with the following report on his contribution:

On Thursday, July 4, I had the pleasure of attending a training session with a group of cadets at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in San Narciso, Zambales. PNRL Board member and Development Officer Tom Simpson runs training sessions here three times a week, in order to give as many cadets as possible, a chance to participate. For this session, 35 players attended, a number well past my expectations!

Tom, assisted by trainee coaches Edmond Brocoy and Harold Aguilo, put the cadets through a number of skills sessions, utilising balls and equipment donated by the Rugby League International Federation(RLIF) from Australia, and other improvised items, like bamboo and robe step ladders, and pvc pipes with concrete bases and metal rods as agility poles.

Although many of the cadets were only there for their first or second session, it is already evident the basic skills are present, and I am confident they will develop into skilled Rugby League players. Living and studying in a highly disciplined environment, the cadets clearly enjoyed the opportunity to let their (extremely short) hair down, and enjoy the friendships that are the basis of the “Greatest Game Of All”, in the world.

While Edmond and Harold will receive accreditation as level 1 Rugby League coaches later in the year, they will be extremely busy. Their commitment is to be applauded, with both of them taking unpaid time off from their jobs.

On Sunday July 7, I attended a training session for the local junior club Tom and his wife Marlyn have setup in La Paz beach, San Narciso. I watched the under-8’, 10’s and 12’s have fun on the beach, again under the guidance of Tom, Edmond and Harold. Most of the mothers who were watching had more fun than the players themselves! There were about 25 kids, some arriving several hours before the scheduled session time. Training actually had to be postponed a bit, as the sandy beach was just too hot to walk on!

Between the two sessions I have attended, it is clear Rugby League has a huge future in the Philippines. There is plenty of interest from potential players; all that is needed is more coaches with quality material. I urge anyone living in Zambales with an interest and/or background in Rugby League, and willing to commit a few hours a week on a regular basis, to contact Tom and help grow Rugby League in the Philippines. Of course, donations of equipment are also most welcome. In the conditions here, footballs go smooth very fast, and need to be replaced regularly.

I look forward to catching up with many of the kids, their parents, and many PMMA cadets at the Clark Nines in Angeles City on October 19.