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Cowboys code for digital future

Rugby league isn’t the only code for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, with players swapping footballs for keyboards and training Indigenous students from NRL Cowboys House in computer coding.

A group of seven NRL players underwent special tech training from Code Club Australia earlier this year as part of a unique Telstra program that aims to boost technology and digital abilities in children aged 9-11 years.

Cowboys player and Indigenous All Stars representative Ray Thompson is leading the charge, displaying his passion for building bright futures for students at the Cowboys Community Foundation’s boarding and education facility.

“Computer coding is the language of the 21st century – these are the skills that our young people need for a digital future,” Thompson said.

“We took the students through a special football clinic before heading inside to learn computer programming by creating games – and had some fun while doing it!”

The player-run session embodies the club's goal of helping to achieve better education outcomes for North Queenslanders, Cowboys CEO Greg Tonner said.

“We want to give these students the greatest chance of success, and by combining resources with Telstra and our playing group, we hope to improve their digital literacy and inspire them to look for innovative pathways during and after their time with us,” he said.

Telstra’s North Queensland Area General Manager Rachel Cliffe said it was 'wonderful' to see the Cowboys Code Club in action.

“It’s truly inspiring to see Cowboys players learn new skills to help these students catch the all-important digital bug – and promote grassroots rugby league in their local community,” she said.

“Telstra is proud to support a program that allows these kids to get active, meet their heroes, play the sport they love – and develop new digital skills as well.”

Ms Cliffe said the players had taken students through a special Code Club project – designed specifically for NRL Cowboys House – that taught students how to make a Cowboys goal-kicking computer game.

“This program is about breaking the myth that computer coding is hard and complex. It’s in fact great fun and for everyone – girls and boys, all skill levels and interests, rugby league players and software engineers alike,” she said.

The program is supported by Telstra Foundation partner, Code Club Australia, a non-profit organisation that provides tools and support for volunteers and educators to provide free coding lessons to kids.

For more information, visit Code Club Australia.