New Zealand Touch Rugby Legend Inspires ISKL Athletes
George Jahnke from Touch NZ was at ISKL during the last week of November to run a series of coaching and training sessions for ISKL Touch, Rugby and PE students and coaches. George is a Touch legend, having represented New Zealand more than 100 times at Open and Masters level. He was also a member of the gold medal winning Men's 40s team at the Touch World Cup earlier this year in KL. George’s main role with Touch NZ, however, is as their Coaching Development Manager.
ISKL Touch has a very strong program and the Athletics Department and Touch coaches hoped the visit would capitalize on the sport’s growing popularity by upskilling ISKL players and coaches. They also wanted to give back to the ISKL Touch community and open a session for local coaches. The visit was made possible through an Inspiration Grant and it certainly achieved the goal of inspiring both players and coaches!
George worked with ISKL competitive Touch teams, Varsity Boys Rugby and two PE classes. As part of his visit, ISKL also hosted a coaching clinic for Touch coaches from local clubs and other International schools.
His three sessions with the Junior Varsity Touch Girls focused on Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) to support develop and encourage fun in learning. They worked on driving and rucking, as well as their attacking play and even added a new play to their playbook. George’s assessment of the team: “The team enjoyed the sessions but got really excited about the technical and micro-adjustments that could be added or refined in their game. The girls totally ‘wowed’ me in their ability to grasp the teachings.”
JV Coach, Chris Wright says George’s expertise was inspiring for players and coaches. She explains, “George helped to teach the girls concepts that will, and already have improved their fitness and their skills. Concepts such as winning the ruck, planning ahead and being organized in our structure, and how simple moves like a split can outsmart our opponents. But it was not only skill that George brought to our team, he offered many opportunities where he talked about heart and spirit and this could be seen and heard throughout the week.”
ISKL’s Varsity Touch Girls received intensive training in five sessions over five days, and it was their attitude that impressed George the most. He says, “The girls impressed me from the outset with their keen, positive, coachable attitude, their strong direct rucking policy and their organized structured attacking defense policy. Each player showed amazing growth in many areas of the game as we advanced through the coaching sessions."
Varsity player, Anna T. was equally impressed by George’s ability to identify areas for the team to improve. She says, “He took a look at how we played and within a few minutes knew exactly how we could improve it. Although we all wished he could stay longer to coach us, he did everything he could to teach beneficial things for the future. Within this week of him coaching us, we have already seen so much improvement individually and as a team.”
The week’s focus was very much on developing ISKL’s coaching ability, an opportunity greatly appreciated by our coaching team, as well as those invited to the “Community Coaches” session held over the weekend. Varsity Touch coach Geoff Moorehead explains the sessions focused on more than just technique, “Maybe even more importantly, George 'walked the talk' - he emphasized in his session for the KL Coaches "T.H.E. Values" - Teamwork, Honesty (integrity), and Enjoyment - he certainly showcased all those qualities with us. On a personal level, George and I talked a lot about the importance of relationship building - with players and also with coaches in the wider Touch community. I now have an extra resource in George (and other coaches) to tap into for the current and future benefit of ISKL students!”
Visiting coach Jennab Zulkifly agreed. She says, “Touch has been growing among the KL touch community over the recent years and ISKL's facilities have played a major role in allowing the sport to develop. To open the Saturday touch clinic with George, to the local community was awesome! Such a great opportunity and a step forward into the right direction of making the sport more accessible and enjoyable in KL. Spearheaded by George and learning alongside those individuals, this was definitely one of the most insightful touch clinics I've attended.”
Making the most of the visit, George also spent time with our Grade 9 PE students who are currently undertaking a Touch/Rugby unit. PE Teacher, Rob Huttered says, “We always look forward to working with experts in the Physical Education department and he showed us what is possible with a sport that is typically very difficult to get full engagement with.”
Gareth Allum, Activities and Athletics Associate Director
About Gareth Allum
Gareth Allum is the Associate High School Activities & Athletics Director at The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL). He holds a Masters degree in International Education and a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Business Administration. This is his 24th year in International Education and is a passionate advocate for student involvement in sports and school activities.