Super League clubs have announced an exciting initiative that will provide valuable support for community Rugby League clubs across the Midlands in 2010.
Building on the rapid growth in playing numbers seen in the Midlands region over the last few years, UK-based Engage Super League clubs will be paired with a specific club to help grow their junior teams in time for the Midlands summer season.
RFL Community Partnership Manager, Chris Thair said: “Unlike their counterparts in the Rugby League heartland, few community clubs in the Midlands benefit from the profile and community work of their local professional club.
“We are grateful to the Engage Super League Clubs and their partner Foundations, who run the community work on the clubs’ behalf, for agreeing to assist the clubs in the Midlands who don’t have a professional club on their doorstep.
“Many Engage Super League clubs have already formed rewarding partnerships with clubs many miles from where they are located and we hope to replicate this as a collective body.”
RFL Midlands Regional Manager David Butler added: “This will provide a huge boost to clubs in the region by helping them recruit and retain players in readiness for the new season and supporting the invaluable work of the Midland based coaches and volunteers.
“Engage Super League has huge nationwide appeal and we will work together in harnessing that power for the benefit of all.”
The partnerships will see Super League community staff and possibly players spend at least one day with their partner club in places such as Nottingham, Coventry, Birmingham, Telford and Northampton. This will build upon the already strong number of full-time staff in the Midlands, brought about by the RFL’s Whole Sport Plan.
All Engage Super League clubs now deliver community programmes through their partner charitable foundations such as the Wolves Foundation at Warrington.
Many have won numerous awards for their pioneering efforts and work closely with the club in deploying players into schools and community events. The Heads of the Foundations agreed to deliver the programme in 2010 and the decision was recently ratified by Super League chief executives.
In addition to widening the pool of Rugby League talent across the region, the plans will also give Engage Super League clubs the opportunity to run their eye over some potential elite players.
“The signing of former Leicester Phoenix and Bristol Sonics player Michael Coady by Leeds Rhinos shows that there are talented players out there who can play our game at the top level” said Butler.
“This programme will give all those players without a professional Rugby League Club on their doorstep an opportunity to get to the top of our game.”