24 May, 2024

Jacob goes the distance for sporty bush kids

TRAVELLING over 2200km every month to volunteer his time as an athletics coach, Normanton local Jacob Dennis has gone above and beyond to help rural children achieve their sporting goals.

By Ellie Fink

Jacob Daniels with some of his students he volunteers to coach athletics to every month.
Jacob Daniels with some of his students he volunteers to coach athletics to every month.

For no repayment besides the rewarding feeling of helping young people, Jacob travels to Kurumba, Mt Surprise and Georgetown every month to host an athletics program he created. 

Originally from Cairns, Jacob grew up playing rugby league, rugby union, swimming and competing in surf lifesaving. 

After having a family, he moved to Normanton, where the only sports club was the local swimming club. 

“I did a lot of sports growing up, and when we moved out here, I wanted my own kids to get involved in sports, but at the time, there was only the little local swim club, which we were helping with at the time,” he said. 

“But it only operated in summer and not the winter and I wanted the kids to do something all year round.”

After watching his eldest son’s school athletics carnival, Jacob said he saw great potential in the students participating and decided he needed to start the athletics club. 

In 2018, he managed to create the program, which has since helped young people gain scholarships, experience and valuable life and sporting skills.

“There was quite a bit of interest to begin with, especially with people I already had connections with and that got it all started,” he said. 

“Then we started going away for carnivals. I got us a minibus and started taking kids away for sport. 

“We have many more kids in each town now and they have really loved joining up and it is still growing and growing.”

One of his biggest achievements as a volunteer so far has been watching one of his students receive a scholarship to go to Sydney and learn to become a personal trainer. 

Jacob said she had always wanted to be a personal trainer, and now has the opportunity thanks to his program. 

“I just love seeing kids doing it all and getting them into programs that will help them in athletics,” he said. 

“At the moment, we are also working on a big development program for the indigenous communities in the Cape ... to take them to Townsville for some professional training ahead of the NQ Championships later in the year.”

Looking back on his volunteer time, Jacob said he was proud to see how his students have developed and hopes to continue expanding his networks and his programs to deliver more.

He encouraged everyone to put their hand up to support local sports clubs, with “many hands making light work” for them. 

“It goes with the old saying that many hands make light work and the more people happy to help out and chip in, the easier it is for local sports clubs,” he said. 


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