Rugby league in Coventry continues to grow, with particpation numbers in the Warwickshire city increasing significantly over the last year or so.
The number of people playing the sport in the city has increased from 270 people in 2015 to more than 2,700 people over the last year, representing an increase of 1,000 per cent.
Coventry Bears’ new Sport England funded five-a-side touch rugby initiative – called Bears 5s – has attracted 1,700 people, while the SKY TRY programme has engaged 1,100 school children in touch rugby skills and drills.
Bears first team players, such as James Geurtjens, Jamahl Hunte and Kieran Sheratt, have delivered coaching sessions all around Coventry in schools, parks, leisure centres and festivals.
Alan Robinson, Managing Director at the Coventry Bears, said: “One of the most important aspects of the sport is that it is accessible to play by anyone and almost anywhere, and this rapid growth suggests that we are heading in that direction.
“Bears 5s has not just grown, but also adapted the sport to meet the needs of different types of participants ranging from ex-rugby players who want full contact, to female only games including more fitness activities.
“We believe these new community clubs will be ideal to build upon the solid foundations that have been laid over the past couple of years.”
The city of Coventry is currently running a ‘City of Rugby’ initiative for the city, which aims to make Coventry a world leader in both codes of the sport by 2023.
Tom Clift is Programme Manager of Engage! Coventry, a city-wide initiative which uses the core values of rugby to provide social and educational benefits as a way of developing healthy, well-rounded, confident young people.
“The City of Rugby initiative is proud to have Coventry Bears and the Bears 5’s Sport England funded pilot programme as part of our first community programme,” he said.
“This new investment into rugby league across Coventry has generated a fantastic level of interest across various demographic profiles and we look forward to supporting the Bears as the pilot moves forwards into its two new hubs.”
Two new community clubs of ‘Summer Rugby League’ activity have now been launched too, in order to sustain the Bears 5s and SKY TRY programmes between March and September in Coventry.
This includes the West Coventry Satellite Club, based at the Xcel Leisure Centre, and the East Coventry Satellite Club, at the Alan Higgs Centre, which will hold rugby league activities throughout the summer for the whole family.
Cllr Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport said: “We have been delighted to support the Bears 5s community project as it has seen great impact across the city and has helped to raise the awareness of Rugby League. As part of the city’s 10 year sports strategy these are exactly the types of innovative ideas we are looking for in order to get more people active.