Valleys U19 coach Therese Kelly is the first woman to coach a Gladstone and District Rugby League premiership-winning side.
Valleys U19 coach Therese Kelly is the first woman to coach a Gladstone and District Rugby League premiership-winning side.

Therese lights way for female coaches

By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THERESE Kelly hopes she has blazed a trail for more females to follow in rugby league after taking Valleys to victory in Sunday's Gladstone and District Rugby League under-19 grand final.

Kelly is believed to be the first coach in GDRL history to have coached a premiership winning side after Valleys outgunned favourites Tannum Sands 33-12 last weekend.

Kelly, a past ARL regional development manager, will not seek to fill the Valleys post again next season despite the thrilling finish to the 2005 campaign.

Although starting the decider as underdogs, Kelly said she knew the Diehards had the talent to get the job done. "I knew they could do it,'' she said.

'It was just a matter of putting self-belief into their heads.

'Going into the game, I had total confidence, from wing to wing, that I had the players needed to win the game.'

While encountering some problems she did not anticipate, Kelly said her first foray into senior coaching ranks went much as she expected.

'Murray Bale, my co-coach, taught me how to communicate with the boys which was a big thing but as far as skills and drills and game play went, it was not as hard as I thought it would be,' she said.

She said the premiership victory was the highlight of her coaching career which included taking Gladstone West State School to the state final of the Coca-Cola primary schools competition in 1997.

'It's up top. Confidence-wise it was a big step for me to say 'I can do this' so to then come through and win was the icing on the cake.'

Kelly said Bale, along with the players, deserved much of the credit for the win and she also thanked Valleys officials for having the courage to approach a female coach.

'Valleys really stuck their neck out for me so that was pretty gratifying,' she said.

She said the support of her family had also been instrumental in the team's success and hoped her achievements would encourage other females to take up the coaching reins.

Her advice to women thinking of taking that step was "get yourself qualified, get some experience and then have a go'.

She said her success was proof that it was not necessary for coaches to have played the game.

'It would definitely help but just by winning I've proved that you can sort it out in your head, deliver that information to the players and have them go out and do whatever you've asked them for.'

Although taking a break next year for personal reasons, Kelly said she still had more goals she wished to achieve in her coaching career.

'I'm still waiting for Wayne Bennett's phone call,' Kelly laughed.



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