Keep busy, Ballin urges young guns
Friday 7 December 2012 4:59 PM
Sea Eagles hooker Matt Ballin's will get the chance to share his hardworking, level-headed attitude to the game's young prospects at the annual Rookie Camp this weekend.
Ballin will join current and former NRL stars in mentoring more than 110 of the game’s brightest young prospects at two rugby league camps in Sydney over the next three days.
More than 90 players from the Sea Eagles, Roosters, Knights, Eels and Rabbitohs will attend the annual Rookie Camp for players entering the NRL Under 20s Cup in 2013, while 24 country NSW boys will take part in the second annual Country to City Education Camp, starting today (Friday).
Ballin, who grew up in country Queensland before moving to the city to pursue a career in footy, has plenty to teach the young players about the path to the top and how to stick to it.
"That's what the rookie camps are for, so guys with some experience in the NRL can share their knowledge with the young guys," Ballin said. "It gives them a head start and a bit of a heads up on the things they can expect from being a footballer in today's society."
The boys will hear from several speakers on a range of topics as well as participating in activities to help them put what they've learned into practice, highlight the NRL and the Sea Eagles' commitment to player welfare and career training.
"There's a broad range of lessons, from education to responsible drinking to how to handle yourself in public in general," Ballin said. "We give some tips on handling the media, basically all the things a young fella will come in contact with as they start playing 20s and hopefully go through to the NRL."
Ballin runs his own fitness company MBF (Matt Ballin Fitness), is studying a Bachelor of Education and was named in the NRL's Academic Team of the Year in 2011 and
His advice to young hopefuls was to keep busy and constantly try to improve yourself off the field as well as on it.
"My main area's education and I try to show the young guys that if they've got spare time outside of footy they should do something productive with it, like education or work."
"Just do something with your time so you don't get in trouble and when your footy career does come to an end you've got something to fall back on."
NRL Senior Welfare and Education Manager, Mr Paul Heptonstall believes Ballin's approach is right in line with their goal of increasing the current engagement rate of 74 per cent of NRL players in education or career training to 84 per cent by 2017.
“Players learn from the start of their Rugby League careers how important it is to plan for life after football, because unfortunately the average length of a career is three to four years.
“It is becoming a younger man’s game and our challenge is to accelerate these players’ awareness of not only their social responsibilities, but the fantastic opportunities that can be achieved through their involvement in the NRL."
The ground-breaking NRL Under 20s Cup competition includes mandated non-training days and a “no work/study - no play rule".