Dons ace Paul a big hit with schoolkids

In action: Paul Cooke on his way to a 24-point haul for the Dons in the big win over Whitehaven at the Keepmoat.        PICTURE: dean atkins
In action: Paul Cooke on his way to a 24-point haul for the Dons in the big win over Whitehaven at the Keepmoat. PICTURE: dean atkins
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DONS star Paul Cooke is proving a winner both on and off the pitch.

The former Super League ace, who scored 24 points in Sunday’s Championship One opener against Whitehaven at the Keepmoat Stadium, works three days a week with the club’s Community Department going into local schools.

On the ball: Woodlands Primary School pupils line up at a training session with Dons star Paul Cooke.                                        PICTURE: steve taylor

On the ball: Woodlands Primary School pupils line up at a training session with Dons star Paul Cooke. PICTURE: steve taylor

“It’s really good; I’m enjoying it,” he told The Star in an exclusive interview.

“Adam Lloyd and Martin Rowland have been great. They’ve welcomed me into their team and I’m loving being involved with the kids and helping out the best I can.

“Doncaster is predominately a football town compared to Hull but there are plenty of kids willing to try their hand at rugby league in the local schools.

“I’m very much enjoying my role trying to spread the word, not just about rugby league, but the Doncaster club as well.

“You probably don’t come across as many kids in Doncaster who know about rugby league as they do in Hull but they are all willing to give it a go at touch rugby and tag rugby and that is all you can realistically ask for when you are going around schools trying to spread the word of not only rugby league but also the Dons.

“I think what some people tend to think when you mention the word rugby that it is going to be biff and bash and that there will be contact and you could get hurt.

“But that is not the case as far as what we are doing in schools and what you find is that when you introduce kids to touch and tag rugby they very much enjoy it.

“They are both good ways to learn some of the basics of rugby, such as catching and passing and scoring tries.

“Obviously by doing what we do we hope to encourage youngsters to want to play rugby for a local junior club and also take an interest in the Dons.

“We work with the schools we go into and we tell the kids that if they can achieve a 100 per attendance record in a particular term then we’ll give them a free ticket to a Dons match and we’ll let their parents in for half price.

“The more we can spread the word and get more people through the gate, the better it is for the Dons.”

Cooke, who played for both Hull clubs in Super League, first took an interest in the game as an eight-year old, but it wasn’t until his early teens that he started to blossom as a player and started to win regional representative honours.

“By the time I was 15 I realised that I was an half-decent player and maybe could go on to to better things, which I did,” he said.

“I’ve gained a lot of experience since then, and I’m still learning since joining the Dons, and if I can pass on any of that experience to anyone who is prepared to listen then I’m more than happy to do that.”