Atlantic Cup - Success All Round!
When the USA Tomahawks and AMNRL administration staff assembled in Jacksonville for the Atlantic Cup last Saturday we met as a group and asked ourselves what would seem like a pretty straight forward question; how would we determine success from this event? Whilst it was a question, we also positioned it as a challenge for our players, coaching staff, and administration. The fact was and is, that we are all in this rugby league development effort together. So why not get everyone's perspective and feedback. We realized that after winning the AC last year that the expectations of our fans would be that we win it again this year against tough opposition from not just Jamaica but Canada also. So the first challenge for our group was to set our own goals, and not necessarily focus on winning but rather improving as individuals and as a team unit. We agreed that winning the AC would be a great achievement, but the consensus was that it was not the only focus for us. In our first team meeting we decided that we would look at a timeline starting in October 2011 for the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers and work backward to the 2010 Atlantic Cup. To give ourselves a bigger picture perspective that this assembly was the launching pad for a long term plan to get to the RLWC 2013 in the UK. In a way we took some of the pressure off the expectations of this tournament by reinforcing that we achieve nothing unless we leave this camp knowing that we all improved. That no matter what the outcome of the 2010 AC that we were committed to preparing right and that we would be in a good place to be ready for 2011 and the challenges that lay ahead against Ireland in March, two Colonial Cup home & away matches against Canada and ultimately the RLWC Qualifiers. Sounds pretty impressive after the fact when the tournament is over and we managed to retain the cup doesn't it?! But between me, you and the team, it really was how we approached this tournament. These were challenges that not only faced the players but also our administrative team of Rob Balachandran, Brian Lowe, and Howard Wilensky. Whilst the team focused on game preparations, our admin team set about developing a platform to present the performances of our team to a national and international audience. To put together three game broadcasts that would give our old and new fans a chance to watch rugby league in the USA like never before. The AC was our first chance to produce game content for WAR and create a platform for fans to watch games live, interact via online game chat/discussion and ask questions of the commentary team. This whole process is linked to the simple question we posed to our whole squad at the start of camp. How would we determine success? Would it be determined by a clean feed that reached homes and fans nationally and internationally? Or more importantly raise the level of awareness and interest regarding rugby league development in this part of the world? For our admin team it was both. There were issues with game one and the feed did not go out to the world in a way we had hoped for due to bandwidth issues on the campus of UNF where Hodges Stadium is located. Just like the commitment of our playing squad, the admin team refused to let the disappointments of the game one broadcast dampen their enthusiasm as they set about planning that games two and three went out to a world wide audience. Rather then allow others to dictate a negative reaction to the production, our guys just focused on getting it right rather then wasting energy on finding an excuse. So success for us is an unusual measuring stick. For most teams and organizations it is about winning or losing, and profits or losses. We have learned to be creative in how we approach all things rugby league. We are in a unique situation in developing this great game in America, so as you would expect we have a unique perspective in dealing with all the challenges we face. Many of our greatest accomplishments have been born out of our most demoralizing defeats and failures. I'd be lying if I told you otherwise. There have been some pretty harsh lessons learned from facing opposition on the field that were way beyond our level of ability, and equally tough resistance from a marketplace that would deem us either insignificant or not capable of fitting into this competitive sporting landscape. So I guess through our unique way of determining what success is, we have evolved an equally unique way of dealing with failure. I am still not sure what success is and how we determine it. But I know what it looks like. I saw it in the eyes of our players when they held up the Atlantic Cup, and in the faces of our admin team when they shared the good news of the game broadcasts going out to the world after the last two games!