Hard Work Pays Off For Devils

first_imgTope guided his Wollongong Devils team to the Men’s Open title at the 2012 New South Wales Country Championships in Dubbo last weekend, winning the Player of the Final award in their win over the Central Coast Dolphins on the siren. The win was the young Devils’ side second consecutive Country Championships title, and Tope says it’s great to see the team is reaping the rewards for the efforts they are putting in. “We’ve put a lot of work into them but the motto of the group is that ‘you make your own luck’ so they are the ones who turn up to training and they are the ones that put the effort in and do the extras and stuff, all we do is shape them and polish them,” Tope said. “It’s never really been driven about results it’s about how you perform and how you hold yourself and to have fun. The win is great but it’s actually better to see them become good models of the game and I guess examples for other kids coming through the system as well, I think that’s where the Country Champs are so important. That was the purpose for us to go away, to have a good time as a group, perform well but act accordingly off the field as well.”“We had three guys who played in their first tournament for the Devils in the Men’s group and that was Dylan Menzies and Matt and Adam Clune. All of them were actually outstanding. They know if they don’t perform and do the wrong thing there are 20 guys that can take their spot and they stepped up to the plate and were probably three of our best players over the weekend and everyone played well.”Tope became involved with the Devils in 2008 after moving to Wollongong and when a knee injury sidelined him in 2009 he took on the challenge of coaching one of the junior Devils teams with fellow Australian Men’s Open player, Terry Deegan. Over the past couple of years the side has developed to a point where they will this year compete in the New South Wales Touch Association’s (NSWTA) Vawdon Cup Men’s Premier League competition. “I tore the cruciate in my knee in November 2009 and I figured I was going to be out for roughly six to nine months or however long it takes to get back, and I needed a project to keep me interested so we took the Junior State Cup team, the under 18’s Boys.” “We trained them up over the past couple of years and piece by piece they got better and more guys have joined in and now we’ve got a bit of a system where, they played division one last year in Vawdon Cup and State Cup, won the State Cup, made the final of the Vawdon Cup and the next progression for them is to actually play in Premier League.”It’s also been a successful 12 months for Tope, who has won two Country Championships titles, as well as the New South Wales Vawdon Cup and State Cup titles with the Eastern Suburbs Roosters. Earlier this year he was a part of the Australian Men’s Open team that played New Zealand in the 2012 Trans Tasman Series, something that has been a goal of his for some time. “To put in so much effort over so long of a time and to have so many setbacks, to make that team you could imagine what it was like it was just smiles from ear to ear. It was hard to sort of block out the occasion and play well because I was just so amped up and so happy and chuffed with the achievement so to actually win it and in the fashion that we won it and to play with guys that I’ve played with for a long time, my best mate was in the team, the coaching staff were so good to us. It was the ultimate experience in sport.”Tope travelled to Scotland to watch the Men’s Open team win its World Cup title last year and says it was ‘fulfilling being in Scotland but even more fulfilling being in Mudgee’. “I actually trained right through with them, I trained right up until they left for the World Cup. I was always going to go over anyway because I thought if I don’t make the team I’ll take my girlfriend over and my brother was living over there at the time, but to see them win, the way that they treated me was that I was still part of the team even though I wasn’t a player. To actually make the team and be a real player in the team actually added to the experience. Being in Scotland and seeing them win and seeing how well they get along off the field and the ambassadors they are for the game, I just wanted to be a part of it so much.”Tope admits its been a big 12 months and that ‘it’s not going to stay that green forever’ but as long as him and his respective teams continue to enjoy playing and keep learning, then that’s the main thing.  “As long as whatever happens, whatever the results end up being that we are still enjoying it, keep enjoying each other’s company whatever team I play in and keep learning and staying fit, no more injuries. The most immediate goals are to keep enjoying it, to stay fit and to keep learning, hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”last_img

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