Young rugby league players are increasingly being educated about the importance of nutrition and its affect on performance.
It’s something the Newcastle Knights see as vital in developing their talent on and off the football field.
So the Knights created a hands-on learning experience for the senior academy of the High Performance Unit with the Club’s dietician Rachel Svenson hosting players for a cooking class and nutrition education session at Knights HQ.
The players, who are a part of the under 18s team, were tasked with preparing a balanced meal from scratch for the junior members of the High Performance Unit.
“It’s an opportunity for them to get their hands on food, to prepare food and to see and try some new foods,” Svenson said.
“The players went through different cooking methods and time management to see how well they could produce a meal."
It wasn’t the first time taking part in the activity for a number of players who built on skills developed from the previous year.
“I think what they were better at was being more efficient with their time and knew what to do,” she added.
“It was good to see them interacting and getting involved.
“It’s about expanding them outside of rugby league and their practical abilities and skills and nutrition is a part of that.
“If we can expand those nutrition knowledge and skills, it’s going to make a better player.
“They probably don’t appreciate it, but that’s their fuel, that’s their energy.
“If we don’t get that right, then they tend to lag behind a little bit.
“If we can get in early then they start developing some really good habits and behaviors, then later on in life, that’s where we start to see it working for them on the field."
Svenson was assisted in the activity by two dietician students from the University of Newcastle. The involvement gave them valuable experience with working with high performing athletes.
“To have an extra pair of hands around was fantastic. The boys asked lots of questions, so it’s a pretty busy full on night,” Svenson said.
Under 20s NYC and High Performance Unit coach Troy Pezet said the initiative was another factor in the Club’s whole player development plan.
“It’s important they learn about nutrition and the skills that come with preparing a meal,” he said.
“They are getting to that age where they need to take responsibility for what they are eating and the preparation of their food and the fuel that they are using for their bodies is really important.
“Most of is now the hours that go into the preparation are more important than the 60 to 80 minutes a junior player will put in on the field.
“It’s just another point of difference that our kids probably get exposed to and we think it’s really important for them going forward.”