Every junior rugby league coach will be trained to spot the signs of mental health issues in young people as part of an innovative new campaign from Movember, delivered by Rugby League Cares.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a huge increase in the prevalence of poor mental wellbeing among school-age children across the UK, with statistically higher levels in the north of England.
As part of the Rugby League World Cup 2021’s Mental Fitness Charter, Movember and RL Cares have devised a series of hour-long online ‘Know Your Players’ workshops in which former rugby league legends provide information and advice on how to approach and tackle mental health problems affecting young players.
All junior coaches registered with the Rugby Football League will be requested to attend one of the virtual workshops, which are part of the Movember Ahead of the Game programme run by RL Cares and RLWC2021.
Emma Goldsmith, the head of community at RL Cares, said: “The last 12 months have been tough for everyone, including all the children who have had to miss out on school and valuable time spent with their friends playing sport.
“Young people are very resilient but some are clearly struggling and we want to ensure that they get the help they need at the earliest opportunity.
“When we get back to playing and training again, coaches will be perfectly placed to spot any problems but to do that they need to be able to recognise what the signs are and the best ways to respond.
“Know Your Players is a great way for us to share vital information with junior coaches on the frontline so that they can help any young person suffering poor mental fitness to get the right level of help they need.
“Attendance at one of the workshops is being supported by the RFL, who are to be commended for once again ensuring the sport leads the way in this important area.”
The Know Your Players campaign was launched today by England coach Shaun Wane.
Wane said: “Mental fitness is just as important to a player’s development and their team’s success as physical fitness.
“It’s great that all coaches in the community game working with players aged between 12 and 18 have access to the Know Your Players workshops.
“As coaches we have a responsibility to get the best out of players and to support them in every way we can.”
Invitations to sign up to Ahead of the Game workshops are being sent out to coaches from this week.