Local schools enjoyed a visit from two former Kiwis earlier this month.
Nigel Vagana and Nick Wright, accompanied by Rugby League Northland development officer Benson Selwyn, called in to Te Rangi Aniwaniwa and Abundant Life School on Thursday, March 2.
Selwyn, who described Vagana and Wright as national rugby league "legends", said the visit gave Vagana a firsthand look at the Leadership Through League programme aimed at year 12/13 students which has been implemented in secondary schools throughout Northland by Rugby League Northland over the past few years.
He said Vagana and Wright were blown away with the concept.
"This is awesome, way to go RLN!" Vagana said.
Selwyn said that Vagana had only recently returned to New Zealand to take up the position of Wellness Ambassador for the NZRL, and help young NRL players in their future prospects and life after league.
"Nigel gave inspirational speeches at all three schools regarding professionalism in all sporting codes which I'm sure can only make our young sportspeople want to strive to achieve their goals," he said.
Of the programme itself, Selwyn said he had spent the past weeks at the two schools as well as Kaitaia College helping senior students qualify for their mini-mod coaching certificate.
The five-week programme allows students to coach under-12 grades and below.
"Because our programme is based on tuakana/ teina, the final three weeks will see the students coaching younger children from their own respective schools and nearby primary schools while I stand back and evaluate their progression," said Selwyn.
"It [programme] lifts these students, while dealing with the little ones gives them a sense of pride within themselves."
The programme will be completed on a sixth week when a one-day mini mod festival featuring two divisions - years 4/6 and 7/8 - is held in which the students on the programme will either coach or referee on the day.
Selwyn thanked Hilda, Irirangi and all at the Te Rangi Aniwaniwa kura for their excellent welcome and rousing haka, and also to Angelina and those at Abundant Life School for allowing the RLN team to be a part of their day.