Representatives of 17 clubs participated in a training day ahead of the new Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League season.
The world-first Programme enables people who have learning disabilities and autism to play a specially adapted version of Rugby League for the clubs that they love, in a non-competitive and inclusive environment.
The training day, hosted by CIC in partnership with the RFL, offered education from the charity’s specialists in learning disability and autism support.
It also provided access to an autism experience simulator and opportunities to learn from the lived experiences of LDSL players.
The day was attended by coaches of Barrow Raiders, Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax Panthers, Hull FC, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, Leigh Centurions, Newcastle Thunder, Salford Red Devils, Sheffield Eagles, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Wigan Warriors, and York City Knights.
Making an impact on people’s lives
Craig Thomason, Partnerships and Communities Manager at Community Integrated Care, said: “We take our role as Rugby League’s Official Social Care Partner and collaborators in the Learning Disability Super League very seriously. We are committed to sharing our skills and resources to support the LDSL to get better every year and to develop the talents within Rugby League. By doing so, we can continually improve the impact that our charity and this sport has on people’s lives.
“This training day was truly inspirational. Through bringing together quality training, innovative technologies, and the lived-experience and insight of players, along with the passion and knowledge of every coach in the room, coaches left the day filled with new ideas and enthusiasm for the season ahead. We’d like to thank the RFL and every participating foundation for their support in developing the best programme possible.”
Thomason delivered a workshop that supported coaches to identify ways to create a person-centred and inclusive team culture, in which every player can thrive.
The CPD day saw Community Integrated Care’s Autism Specialist Practitioner, Denise Kennedy, support coaches to understand methods to better connect with and empower the independence of their players.
The training day powerfully mixed technical learning with hands-on practice.
This included coaches utilising an autism experience simulator, which helped them to better appreciate the sensory needs that some players might have. It also saw players from the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League’s become trainers too, as their put their coaching teams through their paces in a series of drills designed to support coaches to discover new ways to empower and support their players on the field and adapt the game to make it accessible to all.
Warrington Wolves Foundation coach Oli Murphy was among those that attended the event and took part in the Autism Experience simulator.
He said: “It was a real eye-opener and allowed me to understand how completely different everyone’s experience is on the autism spectrum. There were times where we had different experiences to each other in there. This showed how every player’s experience is individualised, so our coaching and delivery must be too.
“It was great to be able to bounce ideas off other coaches and to discover the best ways to deliver the sport, which will provide a better culture for all of us moving forwards. I’m grateful to Community Integrated Care and the RFL for developing such a special day and investing in the talents of coaches.”