first_imgHe spoke of the emotion involved with pulling on the green and gold, the work ethic involved to get there, and the passion that Australians- both competitors and spectators have for sports such as Touch.Dean Russell inspired all with his speech during the Opening Ceremony of the National 18 Years and under Championships yesterday.Russell is the current General Manager of NSW Touch Association, but over the years he has played a much different role to this.With a total of 52 caps for Australia, he was a member of the Australian Mixed Open team between 1986 and 1993.And although he was taking the field in the green and gold when most participants at this tournament were youngsters, his words could not have been more relevant.He described the pride involved when watching a fellow Australian excel in the sporting arena.“No doubt we all gazed in adoration of Cathy Freeman as she sat motionless on the track after winning at the Sydney Olympics, or like me, were swearing at the TV as those Italians dived to rob the Socceroos of a World Cup dream or been screaming with the masses as Thorpie mowed down Gary Hall Jnr to snatch a thrilling victory in the 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay at Sydney,” he said. “All famous sporting moments that makes us proud.”But Russell believes that this feeling is nothing compared to actually taking to the field as a representative of your country, personally.“The first time you pull on the green and gold to represent your country in your chosen sport is a feeling that is unsurpassable and one that doesn’t change from the first time or your 52nd time,” he said.“That first moment is hard to describe but one you will never forget…it’s honour, it’s pride, it’s passion and it’s fear. “But most importantly it’s humility, realising that you are one of a very very few who have been given the privilege to represent Australia with only the one ask, that being to give it your all and to continue the legacy built up by those who have traveled this road before.”Russell is an experienced coach, having coached the Australian Senior Mixed Open team and being the Assistant Coach of both the Australian Mixed Open and Australian Women’s Open teams. He is the current coach of the Australian Women’s 20’s and it was this coaching knowledge that he drew upon when urging the players to strive for the top.He referred to English writer DH Lawrence who said ‘Australians play sport as though their lived depended on it.’“It is these ‘characteristics’ that we as coaches will be looking for in our future athletes,” he said.“So therein lies your challenge for this week, to show this character, not based on the fact to make the National squad but rather to help your own team.”He challenged the players to try that extra bit harder, and to lift when they’re down.“Over this week there are going to be times when things look bleak or times when someone is down, this will be your signal to try that little bit harder. “Don’t yield to the pressure or give up. Stick together on and off the field and keep you and your team going at the opposition at all times.  Dig deep and you’ll find strength, believe in yourself and find inspiration in each others efforts. Above all never ever give up.“Be there and get there to make the touch that has to be made, take that ruck that no one wants to take, go to half when you’re so tired your legs are screaming at you to stop and get off the field- make the effort, whatever it is. Slap your sub on the back ‘great work, keep going, we’ve got them’,” he said.These are the inspirational words that will be running through the heads of the players as they take the field this week. It might just help them score that touchdown, or make that touch.last_img

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