They call the year 2020 “unprecedented” and so was our season! A big congratulations to all involved who helped make this season unforgettable. In March the thought of a 2020 season was fading further and further into the distance. Then thanks to the dedication of the Cougar Committee and parents for their tireless effort in formulating a Covid Plan, season 2020 became reality. We kicked off with training in June then in July it was game on! We had a few close calls but we made it through.
I would like to start this by remembering Joe Younis, father of Steve, coach of the U14s. Joe was the Cougars very 1st Life Member in 1987 who we sadly said goodbye to earlier in the year. Joe was a very passionate supporter of the Cougars and the Rabbitohs, loved talking footy and he loved hearing how well the club was thriving. Joe you were sadly missed on game day and at training.
Season 2020 saw the Cougars grow. Yes, even with a pandemic we managed to field 15 teams in all age groups up to U15s. We also fielded 3 all girl League TAG teams U11, U13 and U15. We ended the season with 212 registered players including 40 girls. This was an amazing achievement and kept Jane very busy with so many new families joining the club. We are hoping that we can grow again in 2021 so keep an eye out for some extra Come and Try events, plus we look to expand the Girls game with even more TAG teams.
In late September the Cougars were proud to field two teams in this year’s Grand Final, the U11s and the U13s. On the Saturday the U11s ran onto Leichhardt Oval after a very tough season and their spirits were high. The team had trained well during the week, the coaching staff were excited and the players were pumped which was evident as they ran onto the field ready to play. The Cougars were the first to score and held their opposition at bay brilliantly. After a brief nap in the third quarter they woke to run away with the win 40-24. This is a great reward for a team who struggled all year and was assisted by a number of boys from the U10s each week. The reward was a game at Leichhardt Oval and a Grand Final win.
On Sunday the U13s took to the field against our cross town rivals the Shamrocks. The Shamrocks were the bench mark all year and at the end of the first quarter it was looking like a tough afternoon. The opposition tries had come off the back of some silly mistakes. To our boys credit they hung in there and made a game of it, scoring some amazing tries with a sideline conversion to end a very stressful regulation time locked up at 16-all. The game went into Golden Point extra time and it was end to end football. Unfortunately with less than three minutes left an unlucky bounce for the Cougars sore the Shamrocks dive over in the corner for the win. All 26 players on the field were exhausted, it was a great game to watch and the way our boys defended was breathtaking.
This club continues to grow and be a bench mark in the Balmain district. It’s off the back of a very hard-working committee, which 2020 put to the test working them even harder. Things changed from week to week and some weekends by the hour. It did not go unnoticed by visiting clubs the extent of the Cougar community and the many volunteers helping out by setting fields up, Cooking on the BBQ, helping in the Canteen, selling merchandise, being Ground Managers, doing First Aid, being Covid Champions and packing down the ground.
We would also like to thank all of the Covid Champions in each team. A huge thank you to our Covid Officer Pat, who after every home game and training session kept us all safe by confirming no spectators to our ground had visited any Hotspots! Another huge thank you to Ahn for creating our QR code which in turn gave great assistance to Pat and the club.
As a Club we need to thank Ryde Eastwood Leagues Club. It’s their investment into Junior Rugby League that provides our kids an amazing opportunity to play the game they love. For the older players Ryde Eastwood Leagues Club provides a pathway to continue playing Rugby League into their senior years.
A BIG thank you to all of our sponsors in 2020. We undoubtedly have the best sponsors in Junior Rugby League, who during these tough times still came forward to support our players and enabled us to provide so much for our teams. We hope our sponsors enjoyed the experience and we welcome you all back in 2021.
Before Season 2021 commences I ask everyone to take a moment and read the NSWRL Code of Conduct Booklet. More importantly than ever before we need to make sure players, coaching staff and parents respect the referees. As a club, our players should thank the referee at the end of every game, this should become an automatic action. Without the referees we don’t have a game!
To all of the amazing Coaches, Managers, Trainers and First Aid Officers, we thank you. Your commitment to being at training, getting to the games early, helping the injured and to the managers for relaying information and looking after the coaches makes this club what it is today, Awesome!
For such a complicated and tough season, it took an amazing team to get us ready for the season and it’s a hard-working committee that makes this happen. As we move into Season 2021 and if you have a spare moment please come along to a committee meeting we have so many small jobs that need to be done and you will be joining an amazing group. I cannot thank this year’s committee enough for all of their hard work it was tough, but we got to the end and we got to see so many amazing highlights on the way.
As I sign off for 2020, I would like to thank everyone involved at the Club this year, it has been a challenge but most importantly the kids took to the field to play. We witnessed some amazing games and some awesome highlights. Each week I was sent photos and videos that were shared on Social Media, the one constant was the smiles on the players faces. I loved seeing when a child wasn’t smiling we found a way to bring a smile out, this just shows what a truly family club we are.
A season isn’t measured on how many games you win but on how you performed and the performances I saw this year were breathtaking. We can now pack Season 2020 away and lets move onto Season 2021 and I look forward to seeing you all very shortly and as the song goes – and when the crowd begins to cheer, its COUGARS, COUGARS that you’ll hear.