For the month of May, NSW Oztag will work with the NSW Office of Sport to promote positive spectator behaviour through the 2023 Shoosh for Kids campaign.
The Shoosh for Kids campaign is a government initiative that aims to promote positive sideline behaviour at all junior sporting events across New South Wales (NSW).
The key message remains – if you don’t have anything nice to say, shoosh for kids.
The collaborative effort between NSW Oztag and the Office of Sport encourages parents, coaches, and spectators to “shoosh” negative comments at all Oztag events – from grassroot to representative levels.
Both Australian Oztag (AO) and NSW Oztag take a strong stance on poor spectator behaviour, in line with the game’s official Code of Conduct policies.
NSW Oztag Development Officer, Luke Manahan strongly advocates for the Shoosh for Kids campaign and knows the importance of making sport a safe, fun and inclusive experience for kids.
“I strongly encourage our Junior Oztag Associations to get behind this initiative and show their communities where they stand on poor spectator behaviour,” Manahan said.
“As junior sport continues to grow it is important that we create a safe and supportive environment for children to participate in sport,” he said.
Manahan encourages the Oztag community to keep their sideline behaviour positive, and make sport fun – on and off the field, to ensure kids keep coming back to junior sport.
“By raising awareness and encouraging positive behaviours from parents and spectators, we can ensure that the children leave having had a positive experience and want to return,” he said.
To help foster a fun sporting environment at your local competition, register your club HERE and access the range of FREE digital resources to use across your social channels, website, or as posters at your venues.
As junior sport gets underway again this week, NSW Oztag encourages everybody to ‘think before they speak’ – supporting players, coaches, referees and volunteers in a positive way.
For more information on the 2023 Shoosh for Kids campaign, visit the Office of Sport.
The Baulkham Hills Girls 16s made history at the 2023 NSW Junior State Cup in February, as the first junior team to win seven consecutive State Championships.
The Baulkham Hills Girls 16s have won back-to-back state championships since Under 10s in 2017.
It is no easy feat winning seven consecutive titles, however, take a group of young, tenacious players who are committed to each other, and you will create one of the most entertaining teams to watch.
Coach, Ben Ellis could not be prouder of his team – putting this incredible achievement down to their unwavering determination and work ethic.
“I’ve never met a group of girls collectively who have a willingness to train like they do,” Ellis said.
“Early on we had a group of girls that weren’t as skillful as a lot of teams we’d come up against, so we identified that for us to be successful we had to outwork everyone… Then we could just slowly chip away at increasing their skill sets,” he said.
Of the 16 players in the 2023 State Cup team, there are four girls who have been a part of all seven championships – Waiaria Ellis, Nadelle Harrison, Aaliyah Soufan and Georgia Bezzina, with many others having played in five or six.
Over the years, Ellis has always stressed the importance of a healthy team culture and is confident that the one they’ve created is the biggest reason for their success.
“We always keep reiterating to the girls that comps are not won on the field, they’re won off it,” he said.
“We just try and create an environment where all the girls get along and enjoy each other’s company… From there I feel playing the game is easy,”
“I think the Whanau (Family) environment we’ve tried to create has really helped,” he said.
From a young age the girls adopted a rugby league-like game style that quickly separated them from other teams.
“When we took over, we were just there as parents of a team that needed a coach – we didn’t have much experience ourselves in the game of Oztag so we could only really coach them with what we knew,” Ellis said.
“We just started coaching them like footy… We wanted our girls to play a style of Oztag that replicated rugby league,” he said.
Watching this bunch of girls develop over the years into the players they are today has been extremely special for Ellis.
“It’s the reason we coach… To hopefully have an impact on the girls whether it’s big or small,” he said.
“You don’t really have a lot of time to reflect on it, but to think we’ve had some of these girls from 9 years old… when honestly it was like watching paint dry – running around in each other’s pockets, no passing, just one out runs… To now, not needing any structure, playing free flowing tag, running plays, it’s honestly awesome to watch,”
“The best thing about it though, is watching them grow from little girls, into awesome young ladies – I think that tops everything,” he said.
Ellis praised the efforts of parents and believes their commitment over the years has played a big part in the consistency of the team.
“We’ve had a core group of girls play a lot of these tournaments, and I think the commitment the parents make, to make sure everything runs smoothly is overshadowed,” he said.
“We ask a lot from the players as we prepare for these tournaments but we also ask a lot more from the parents… The financial burden is the biggest part,”
“As a parent myself I understand how much these tournaments cost, so without the help and commitment from all our parents over the years, we definitely couldn’t have been so consistent,” he said.
With daughter Waiaria in the team, the championship wins have been even more special for Ellis – sharing moments of success and watching her grow along the way.
“Yes, it’s been very special… To me though, what’s more special is watching her grow and develop as a player and person, with her friends, having fun and playing a sport they love,”
“Having a little bit of success along the way, and being able to share that with her and her teammates is the icing,” he said.
In addition to the team’s state-level success, majority of this Baulkham Hills side represent the West Sydney Tigers at the Australian Championships.
In October, the girls will return to Coffs Harbour in hope of re-claiming the National title for the fifth year running.
St George Junior Oztag have for long encouraged the development of young referees, with recent competitions proving the increasing popularity among females.
St George Junior Oztag (DragonTag) have a remarkable 14 female referees officiating their Junior competition at Scarborough Park on Thursday afternoons.
Aged between 13 and 15, plus two over-18-year-olds, these girls take to the field with confidence, enthusiasm, and a shared passion for the game.
St George Oztag Licensee, Michelle Anderson, who has been around the game for 24 years, has seen firsthand the growth in female involvement, particularly refereeing.
“Our game has encouraged female participation since it started, by creating Women’s and Mixed divisions… Our female players love playing the game and it’s great to start seeing our female participants becoming more involved in many aspects,” she said.
Anderson puts this growth in female referees down to many of them playing Oztag at a representative level, as well as the relaxed environment of the game.
“By playing representative tag, they have had more opportunities to learn and understand the rules. This has given them confidence to give refereeing a go,” she said.
“Their love of the game and the environment around our game has encouraged them to want to be more of a part of it… refereeing for them is enjoyable and a great way to earn some money,”
Anderson is hopeful that by seeing females officiating games, more young girls will be open to giving refereeing a go, regardless of whether they play at a Representative level.
St George DragonTag have make a distinct effort to encourage their players from a young age to try refereeing and ensure they receive the necessary training in order to feel confident when taking the field.
“I am very involved at ground level. I get to know my players and watch and support all teams at Representative level… I have spoken to our players from early on to encourage them to have a go at refereeing,” Anderson said.
“We offer free Theory & Practical training courses prior to the commencement of our competitions in August/September every year,” she said.
St George DragonTag is one of many associations encouraging the development of young referees, knowing very well that without them our competitions cannot go ahead.
Australian Oztag reached out to three of St George DragonTag’s wonderful female referees, Charlotte Teplicanec (14), Nadia Debbo (13) and Elizabeth Rigg (22) and asked them a few questions about their experience refereeing.
What do you enjoy most about refereeing?
Charlotte: I enjoy refereeing because it gives me an opportunity to learn and grow a greater understanding of the game and get a different perspective of the game as a ref rather than a player.
Nadia: I enjoy refereeing because I love the game of Oztag. Refereeing keeps me fit as I have to run around during the game to make sure I watch the players so I can make the correct calls. I also love teaching the new young players the rules of the game as some have never played before.
Elizabeth: I think I really enjoy seeing the kids improve from week to week as well as the joy it brings those playing.
What skills have you learnt from refereeing?
Charlotte: I have learnt how to communicate with players and make calls whilst under pressure and it has given me confidence in my calls.
Nadia: Refereeing has taught me leadership skills , to be assertive , how to work well under pressure and how to handle stressful situations such as when parents or players criticise calls that I make.
Elizabeth: I’ve learnt better communication skills and assertiveness. I’ve also learnt the rules in better depth.
Do you think these skills have helped you as a player?
Charlotte: These skills have helped me as a player as I’ve become clearer with communication to my teammates and call plays whilst the defence is putting pressure on us.
Nadia: The skills I have learned as a referee have helped me as a player to have more respect and patience to all referees when I am playing and to communicate better with my teammates.
Elizabeth: These skills have helped me gain a deeper understanding of the small rules that most players don’t know about. I’m also able to communicate to my teammates in defence better.
AO encourage all young players or those interested, to give refereeing a go. Contact your local association for all necessary information on how to get involved!
NSW Oztag are set to welcome 160 teams to Coffs Harbour ahead of the highly anticipated Senior State Championships this weekend.
The NSW Senior State Championships kicks off this Friday 24 June in Coffs Harbour, with over 2,500 players determined to take home gold.
Teams will play their round games over Friday and Saturday, across both C.ex Stadium and Geoff King Oval, before Sundays Finals converge at C.ex Stadium.
This tournament will be the first time in five years that there is no division two, but rather one prestigious competition to crown the NSW State Champions.
“We had to get back to making this tournament about the elite. To be the best of the best, to be State Champions in one division,” Tournament Director, Bill Harrigan said.
Homebush Men’s Opens will be gunning for seven championships in a row. While three-time runners up and rival contenders, Central Coast are likely to come out firing after losing by one point in last year’s Final.
The Central Coast Men’s 40s and Penrith Senior Mixed will both be striving for three in a row, while Souths Women’s 20s will no doubt have their eyes set on re-claiming the title after losing to the competitive Central Coast girls in 2021.
This year will see Central Coast chase their ninth consecutive Club Championship, with previous hot contenders including Souths, Penrith and Cronulla.
NSW Oztag look forward to welcoming all teams and spectators to the beautiful Coffs Coast, for the long-awaited Senior State Cup tournament.
“We love coming back to Coffs – it’s the best venue in the State, and having the tournament in Winter will be a whole new experience,” Harrigan said.
Teams are encouraged to book in for their official team photograph with IB Images via their online booking system, which will place them in the priority system for action shots.