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Bird offers winning combination

Posted: 7am 10 Nov 2021

Deon Bird will use his experience as a professional rugby league player, mentor and wellbeing coach to develop the women’s game at the Dolphins as he guides the inaugural Women’s U-19 2022 Harvey Norman team.

His 11-year professional rugby league career started with the Brisbane Broncos in 1994 in lower-level grades and he was there during the Super League war before travelling to England to play in the competition there.

For work visa reasons, he came back in 1998 and played at the Dolphins for a period before joining the Adelaide Rams, returning to England and then finishing his playing career at the Dolphins in 2007.

Soon after, he become a mentor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Until then, football had been the centre of his life.

“This would profoundly change the trajectory of my life as I realised my real purpose – assisting people at risk, in particular Indigenous youth,” he explains.

Bird worked in this role for seven years, before moving into the health and mental health field for six years.

He was appointed as the Dolphins’ wellbeing/education officer in May and says being at the club reignited a desire to be part of something and sparked his interest in coaching.

“The landscape of contact sport has changed dramatically. To be part of that is pretty cool especially here at the Dolphins,” Bird says.

Exciting new chapter for club

He says the club has a proud history and he is excited to be involved in the next chapter, which includes women’s rugby league and the NRL.

The father-of-four has three daughters aged 12, 14 and 16 years. They have been playing rugby 7s and it has given him a chance to gain a greater understanding of the sport from a female perspective.

His eldest daughter is keen to join the Dolphins’ team.

So far, more than 20 players have expressed an interest in playing, but the club is still looking for more.

Train and trial sessions are being planned for December and January before games start in February. There will be two trial games before the three-game season starts in March.

“I want to create a base of young women that will be there the year after and we want a bit of buzz around the women’s game,” Bird says.

“It would be good to see young girls be proud of that program as well.”

His and the club’s vision is to create a pathway for female players from juniors to NRLW.

“I’d love to win games, but this is more about the development of the girls’ game,” he says.

Bird says his experience as a player and mentor has given him insight and knowledge he hopes will help grow players’ confidence.

It’s about “adding to good people” and “coming together as a team”.

“If I can get that going, we won’t have a problem winning a game,” he says.

“It’s really exciting. Potentially in the next two years, we’ll look to have another girls’ side in the BHP competition but we could be on the verge of an NRLW side as well. It’s great for the club.”

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