In 2017 former Bulldogs and Panthers player Tim Browne launched the Leading Edge Rugby League Academy for children and young adults looking to take their game to the next level.
Browne wanted to establish the academy as a way to give younger players more opportunities to develop their skills then he had growing up.
“The Idea of starting a development program was always something I wanted to do when I retired from the NRL,” Browne tells Everything Rugby League.
“Growing up, I really struggled to make higher divisions within my local Club and could never get a crack with rep sides/development squads. Looking back, this was a massive disadvantage for me as all the players in these systems were getting a level of coaching I was never exposed to and I couldn’t continue to develop my skills and increase my knowledge of the game.”
“The Leading Edge program bridges the skill level gap between Club and Rep level footy. This will help give young players who are in the position I was the level of coaching they need to stand out from the rest.”
Leading Edge has grown rather quickly and with that came obstacles for the former player to overcome.
“Challenges setting up the Academy was the rate of which it grew. The response we have had in just under three years has been incredible and I’m so glad that the program has been of such great value to both the parents and players. Finding quality, energetic and passionate coaches to match the rate of growth has been a difficult task at times.”
Due to the number of players, their diverse ages and skill levels, the Academy has developed various different programs tailored to meet individual needs.
“Our program consists of two levels. Our Juniors U/6-U/12s and our Seniors U/13s+. Our Junior programs focus on both fine and gross motor skill development and basic techniques needed to reduce the risk of injury.
“Junior footy, in my opinion, has over the years become too professional and strict! Our programs focus on laughing and having fun as this is what the game in these age groups are meant to be all about.
“Our Senior programs are fast-paced and jam-packed full of information. Our pre-season program is exactly the same as to what they would experience in a rep squad or development system. Training on the field and working on our skill development with our Rugby League Coaches, Speed and agility training with our speed coaches and conditioning components with our S&C’s.
“We keep our session numbers low so our coaching team can provide constant feedback to all our players.”
Recently Browne has expanded LERLA by starting up an online program to reach International players and help clubs out financially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our Online training Centre is something I’m really excited about as we are working with players from all over the world.
“With the current COVID-19 crisis, we have established a “Club fundraising” program to help generate funds for all Clubs across the world. All Clubs can register online and when a player signs up using their code, LERLA is donating a portion of the student’s fee directly to the Club.
“I’m also really excited about the opportunity to deliver an online Rugby League course. There are plenty of entry-level skill & drill videos out there on the internet but there has never been an actual course where players can learn the game on a deeper level.
“All our field sessions are fully guided tutorials where we focus on the core skills you can do either by yourself or with a partner. Our online Football education classes involve learning the analytics and mathematics of the game. This is something that has never been done before and is now made available to each and every player looking for the opportunity to grow their personal game.
“Each week I also personally check in with all the players via live online sessions to make sure everyone is understanding and enjoying the programs.”
Even during these trying times, the Leading Edge Rugby League Academy is pushing through to enhance the skill level of Rugby League’s future stars which is great to see.