Super League and the RFL have partnered with national social care charity, Community Integrated Care, to form an inclusive sports programme for people with learning disabilities and autism.
The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League will give people with learning disabilities the opportunity to play an adapted version of rugby league, in a series of high-profile festivals and events.
The programme will make a major statement about social inclusion in sport and it’s the first ever example of a professional sports league sharing its brand with a learning disability sports programme.
This inclusive competition has been supported by 12 founder clubs – Castleford Tigers, Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, Newcastle Thunder, Salford Red Devils, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Wigan Warriors and York City Knights.
The programme is set to launch at Super League’s Magic Weekend event, which takes place at Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC. This will provide one of the biggest ever crowds for a learning disability sport event.
Warrington hooker Danny Walker, Wigan back-rower Willie Isa, St Helens prop Luke Douglas and Leeds veteran Jamie Jones-Buchanan are all ambassadors of the programme.
Super League chief executive, Robert Elstone, said: “I would like to thank Community Integrated Care for presenting this ground-breaking opportunity to Super League.
“The passion and commitment shown to date to get this project underway bodes well for a partnership that will reward all participants in so many ways.
“Not only will this deliver amazing opportunities for all the players, and experiences that will live in the memory for lifetimes, it will also endorse everything that Super League stands for.
“Our Clubs sit at the heart of proud communities and bring people together every day of the year. The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League will widen that reach and amplify these special qualities.”
RFL chief executive, Ralph Rimmer, added: “As a governing body we are extremely proud of our work in developing both Physical Disability and Learning Disability Rugby League over the past 12 months.
“To have a partner of the calibre of Community Integrated Care come on board is really exciting and they will add real value as we look to develop this format.
“The work the Club Foundations have done in giving players with a learning disability the chance to experience Rugby League has been first class and we look forward to working with Super League, Club Foundations and Community Integrated Care to continue to deliver some unprecedented playing opportunities.”