DAVE Kennedy is a three-time national Professional Bull Riders (PBR) champion.
He’s also the head coach of the inaugural Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) PBR Bull Riding program, the 29-year-old enlisted by NIAS executive officer Di Hallam to guide six young talented cowboys.
There was nothing around like NIAS in Kennedy’s early days.
He learned to ride and had his bullriding instincts enthused by riding calves on the Kyogle property he grew up on.
He was taking the six young cowboys in their first session since their induction and fitness-testing at Tamworth’s Australian Equine and Livestock Entertainment Centre (AELEC) .
His message was simple: “Back yourself”.
And he told them not to waste the support and coaching they would receive from NIAS.
“It’s a big stepping stone for them,” he said.
He’s also preparing them for a major event at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre when they will compete at the same event as major international and Australian bull riders.
“We’re trying to get everything right for there,” Kennedy said.
“It’s a big deal for them.
“They get to hang their ropes up beside some of the best bullriders.”
Ben Butler is a 17-year-old second year apprentice boilermaker from Denman.
He’s been rodeoing for three years and wants to be a bullriding professional.
“I’m looking forward to Newcastle,” Butler said.
“This gives us something to work on,” he said of the coaching session.
“I want to go to the US and win the world title,” he said when asked about his aim in the sport.
“This will help.”
Kennedy also started as a boilermaker but has made his way in the sport to be one of the stars.
For Hallam, watching the six young cowboys listen intently to a session with Kenendy is a warm feeling.
Butler, Nick Penrose and Daniel Rogan (both Tamworth), Jessie Glass (Attunga), Mick Knight (Gunnedah) and Beau Richardson (Gresford) are riding a new frontier for NIAS.
“We’re the only academy with a bullriding program,” the former ABCRA chief executive said.
“We had applications from interstate for this but wanted young men who could commit to the whole NIAS program, do the workshops, everything.
“And they are all well performed.
“They are all national final junior qualifiers or have won national junior titles.
“So it’s not a beginners’ course.
“They’re all about ready to go into the senior ranks.
She said the six NIAS juniors now go to Newcastle where they will be guided by Australian bullriding star Brendan Clark during that International bull riding competition.