Billy’s Buddies is the brainchild of Billy Slater – former Melbourne Storm, Queensland and Australian Rugby League representative. Currently running across Greater Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Sydney and Cairns, the sports program is the home of non-contact rugby league for kids ages two to six. And the little ones can’t get enough!
What prompted you to start the program?
One of my main inspirations for starting Billy’s Buddies was my own two kids, Tyla and Jake. They love running around and being active. For me, it’s important that as many kids as possible have the opportunity to learn about how to be active, run, jump and have a great time in the Billy’s Buddies program.
What key skills do kids learn in Billy’s Buddies?
We are a non-contact program, with the fundamentals of movement at heart. One of the key points of our program is that Billy’s Buddies is non-competitive program, it’s about giving kids the opportunity to be more active in a safe and fun environment. We focus on how to pass, run and jump, all within structured coach-led sessions that help kids have fun being active. In our Billy’s Buddies program, kids will be involved in fun, high energy activities that focus on a range of different skills-based activities each week, for example ‘Hot Hotdogs’ which teaches kids how to pass a ball, catch a ball and run around the play area. These fundamentals are great for any kid in any environment. Each activity aims to build on the previous session’s skill levels to add another element of fun and challenge. Kids love this as it keeps them interested. We also introduce a weekly theme to the games such as ‘Robots’ or ‘Dinosaur Week’, to take the kids on an interactive journey each week.
Why target this younger age group?
I feel that being able to help younger kids have an appreciation for rugby league, sport and movement in general is critical. If we can provide them with a really positive set of experiences when they are young, then, fingers crossed, they will play sport and be active for many years to come.
What do you find the kids enjoy most about the program?
Rugby league, like a lot of sports, is a great way for kids to get outside, learn a few new skills and to socialise with others. Our Billy’s Buddies program is designed to help kids learn how to pass a footy, run around and to do movements that are similar to footy, but, let’s not forget that we want to have fun, especially, as we are teaching 2- to 6-year olds. The fundamentals that we teach, provide kids with great skills to take with them to any sport or just to be healthier.
Do girls enjoy it too?
Absolutely! The skills and activities that our fantastic coaches teach each session are designed for anyone. Adding to this, it’s non-contact, it’s heaps of funand no two weeks are the same. Each 40-minute session is based on a different theme so the children are taken on a fun and exciting journey through theme-based games and activities – the skills and drills are all learnt subconsciously.We have designed our Billy’s Buddies program with kids in mind, they need to enjoy it.
Do your own kids enjoy playing rugby league?
Our kids enjoy all sports, they always have! Jake has played rugby league for four years now. Tyla does dancing and acrobatics. We often go to the park and make up little games together. Seeing our kids have fun outside is really important to my wife and I.
What do you enjoy most about coaching little kids?
I feel that it’s important for all kids to have the opportunity to be the best that they can be. I enjoy seeing them learn something new, meet a new friend and have a great big smile on their face. I enjoy giving back as much as I can.
What age did you first start kicking a ball and playing rugby league?
I have been playing rugby league ever since I can remember. I think I was three or four years old when I first started. I have very fond memories of running around, kicking a footy and being around a bunch of my mates. I’ve always loved it.
What’s your favourite thing to do when you have a day off?
Something with my family. Our last day off together we went to the zoo. I think Mum and Dad had just as much fun as the kids did!
Tell us something about yourself that the readers might not know…
My wife and I met at a pony club when we were 13. We both have a passion for horses and like country music.
And the program has recently won an award! Tell us about that…
Yes! Billy’s Buddies has won Best National Preschooler Activity in the 2019 What’s On 4 Kids Awards – Recognising Excellence in Australian Kids Activity Industry. It’s such a fantastic achievement. To be just three years old and win a national award is fantastic, I’m super proud of the whole team.