Rugby Victoria’s inaugural Teachers Ambassador program is making an impact in 2021.
The program is designed to provide best practice, content, support and information for those advocating for Rugby Union within schools.
Inspiring the next generation at Parade College is Richard Hazzaz.
Growing up in rugby mad Western Sydney, Hazzaz “fell in love with the sport” – however was concerned at the lack of presence it had when he began teaching at Parade College, Bundoora.
“Rugby is not in this foothold,” Hazzaz said.
“I come from a rugby background, so coming to Victoria and realising this was alarming to me.”
“I wanted to put my foot down and say rugby is a sport that caters for everyone and introduce it to the school.
“I want kids who can’t play AFL, who are not suited to play soccer, or who are not tall enough to play basketball to still have a sport to come to.
“The culture of Rugby Union really appeals to myself and I just want to share that love and exposure to all the kids out there, so they can get the same enjoyment that I get.”
The launch of the Teacher Ambassador Program saw teachers selected across Victoria for their passionate commitment to school-based rugby programs and events.
The Parade College Sports Performance Program is one of these – allowing students to excel in sports, better develop their abilities and meet and exceed performance standards.
Generating the interest of over 80 students, Mr Hazzaz took it upon himself to lead his crop of youngsters every Monday and Wednesday afternoon to develop their skills and teach them how the sport is played.
Despite the constant challenge of keeping his players from other sports and commitments, Mr Hazzaz has his eyes firmly set on the Rugby Victoria Vic School 7s Gala Day on June 4th.
“If I look around today, I’ve only got three students here who have ever played a form of rugby,” Hazzaz said.
“Now I’ve got two teams up and running, filled with kids who are learning and enjoying the game.”
“The support at Parade College is unbelievable. The principal encourages our program – he can see that we are making a difference and the boys are aspiring to become young professionals and better people.”
“If I can make a difference and help these boys, then I’m doing my part for the community.”
Watching on training was Patrick and Maria Iosefo; parents of Under 16s twins Zyon and Dre as well under 14 Maxym.
Parents to three rugby-loving sons, the Iosefo’s were full of praise for the introduction of the rugby program at Parade College and believe the influence of a good teacher can never be erased.
“When we came to Parade, we didn’t expect there to be any rugby,” Ms Iosefo said.
“We were very happy when Mr Hazzaz initiated the whole rugby program. Our boys have always been part of rugby, but it can be hard at this age for them to always have access to it.”
“We are very grateful for Mr Hazzaz; you need people like him to initiate these things.”
Without dedicated teachers like Richard Hazzaz who live and breathe rugby in our community, it is far more challenging to get the sport in front of new participants to grow and develop our great game.
A Parade College initiative is for teachers to set out a Personalised Goal Plan – with most focusing on academic achievements and outputs.
However, for Mr Hazaz, only one thing mattered to him.
To create a rugby union foothold in the north.
“I want to focus on creating a rugby academy here in the north,” Hazzaz said.
“I have a five-year plan with our program in order for the school be competitive in rugby.”
“I want to us to be playing rugby 7s, an under 14s, 16s, 18s with coaches willing to help us. I want the northern clubs such as Eltham and Northern Panthers to be filled with our players and I want our players to help the Melbourne Rebels rise to the top of the table.”
“The only way I can do this is by starting at the grassroots of rugby at our school and develop our great game.”
Teachers Ambassadors attended a Professional Development Coaching Upskilling day at AAMI Park earlier in May. Ambassadors gained their Smart Rugby and Foundations accreditation and even gained coaching insights from Melbourne Rebels Forwards Coach Geoff Parling.
But for Mr Hazzaz, it’s the impact he has on his students that he believes is the greatest reward.
“Being a Rugby Victoria Teacher Ambassador makes me feel that I’m making a difference.”
“If I can build confidence, hope and happiness to one student, then I can do it to a lot more.”
Visit Parade College here: https://www.parade.vic.edu.au
For more information on the Teacher Ambassador Program being run through Rugby Victoria in partnership with the Melbourne Rebels, get in contact with Game Development Manager Samantha Homewood via email at Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org.