10 May 2023

Surrounded by family, Karl out to build Pride in Cairns

| Matt Nicholls
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RUGBY league is in Karl Adams’ blood, so when a new role was created at the Northern Pride, the Weipa product was quick to jump at the opportunity.

Not only is it a positive career move for the 36-year-old, but he also moves to a place where he is surrounded by familiar faces.

There’s a real Weipa flavour at Barlow Park, with CEO Garreth Smith an almost lifelong resident, while his wife Florrie coaches the women’s squad.

Their children are also heavily involved, with Denzel King and Seamus King-Smith key members of the Pride’s first-grade squad.

The Weipa connection has helped Adams make the transition from Townsville after he spent several years working at Cowboys House while coaching the Norths Devils in the TDRL.

Importantly, though, he wants to play a key role for the Pride as their project officer.

It’s a job that includes three portfolios.

The first is the Northern Pride’s graduate program, which is an engaged education program for school-leavers and jobseekers

“We’ve got a partnership with the TAFE where it is fully funded for participants,” Adams said.

“They don’t have to pay for anything and they walk out with a certificate in coaching.

“I provide the wraparound support for those in that program.”

The second portfolio is player welfare.

“The way we’re structured it is is to concentrate on welfare, rather than the wellbeing,” Adams said.

“So we try and help with the welfare aspects of their home life, the supports around them, accommodation, employment, income, all that sort of stuff. If they’ve got all those things lined up, and they’re happy with all the support around them, there’ll be fewer wellbeing concerns.

“Obviously, you’re going to get players with injuries and that type of thing where we monitor them and put a case plan around them, but we try and concentrate on the positive stuff.”

The third portfolio, which perhaps excites Adams the most, is the community engagement.

“I manage all our engagements with clubs, schools and stakeholders,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to getting up into the Cape and working with the kids and the clubs.”

While Adams has only been in the role since January, he said the opportunity to move to Cairns and grab a new position by the horns was too good to pass up.

“I’ve been in Townsville for the past three years as a career transition officer at Cowboys House,” he said.

“I think when this position was advertised, it aligned quite well with what I was doing down there and what I wanted (to achieve).

“I’m very passionate about the area and the region and what the Northern Pride represents.”

Having grown up idolising the CEO for his exploits on and off the rugby league field, Adams said he had no issues working with Smith.

“Without talking him up too much, Garreth’s probably one of the most influential people I have ever met,” he said.

“As a young fella, I always admired what he’s done on the field.

“Then, growing up, I had a great deal to do with him with rugby league teams and I’d just tag along and run water or whatever he needed. I learned so much along the way.

“I think that relationship developed a long time ago. He understands why I do what I do, which aligns with the club’s values and what he’s trying to create, which is a positive environment and a real connection with the community.”

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