Premiership-winning coach John Lang says it's time to scrap the rugby league mentality that a woman's role in a club was to man the canteen and launder the jerseys and encourage them to coach.
Lang, a former Australian representative who coached Cronulla, Penrith and Souths, will host a seminar through the Caringbah De La Salle junior rugby league club early next month to provide women with what's been called an ''intimidation-free'' introduction to coaching.
He described the need to embrace greater female involvement as a ''necessity''.
''There is hardly any women involved in coaching … I've seen where women are involved in the game they do a good job,'' he said. ''To be brutally honest, there's a lot of blokes out there doing it badly and at a time when plenty of women are playing touch football, Oztag and women's rugby league I think there's many of them who'd do well.''
Lang suggested the seminar to former Wests Tigers chief executive Scott Longmuir, who is now president of Caringbah De La Salle, because he believed women generally ticked the boxes required to coach.
''The first thing a coach needs is a commitment to the child's well-being and it's sad to say some [males] don't seem to have that,'' he said. ''Yes, you do need to have a certain knowledge of the sport but if anyone starts off in mini-football, apart from the child's well-being, you only need a limited skill set. You don't think a woman who has played netball couldn't coach mini league? You need to get the ball down the end [in both sports]. In rugby league, a player needs to put the ball down over the line, in netball, it's through the hoop.
''There's plenty of girls with sports science qualifications and as a sport all we've ever had is them working in the canteen. It's a great resource that's being under-utilised.''
Sydney Roosters great Kevin Hastings was given his first taste of league when a Catholic nun coached his Mount Carmel primary school in Waterloo while Lang said his grandson's school team on the Gold Coast was coached by a woman who did a ''tremendous'' job. ''There are guys who can't coach much, they're terrible,'' he said. ''The only way they can justify their existence is by winning, it justifies their manhood.''
Longmuir, whose two sons play for De La Salle, decided to host the seminar after Lang stressed there was a need to encourage women to coach.
''The seminar is open to any woman who just want to understand and help their kids with the basics of the game,'' he said. ''I also see this seminar as a stepping stone for women to do their level 1 coaching course. I have no doubt it could be quite intimidating for women to attend a level 1 with 20 blokes … when I did the course again last year there wasn't one woman and, really, who could blame them? My other motivation for doing this is to encourage more girls to play rugby league. I don't think anyone playing league gets hurt that badly between the ages of six and 10, and the statistics support that view. I also think broadening the game at this level makes good business sense for the future of the NRL as well.''
For those interested in attending the seminar email firstname.lastname@example.org. John Lang and Cath Gorman will be the keynote speakers.