Winter Rugby League returns to Cougar Park on Sunday 5th December with a day of fun and activities featuring a match between the British Asian Rugby Association (BARA) and a newly formed team of MPs from across all parties, known as the ‘Political Animals’.
The event, which aims to raise much needed funds for the Pakistan Flood Appeal, has been organised by the Leeds North West MP, Greg Mulholland, and BARA Managing Director and dual code international Ikram Butt.
Greg Mulholland MP, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group and skipper of the Political Animals, commented; “I don’t need much excuse, to get the lads together for a game, and this is as good an excuse as it gets.” He enthused.
“This is the first time that a group of politicians have come together to form a rugby league club, so we are delighted to be making our little bit of rugby league history. We bring together politicians throughout the UK to play rugby league and promote the game. By engaging with colleagues in Parliament and in central and local government, we hope to raise the profile of the game and demonstrate the important role the sport plays in communities.
“Having a presence on the web at www.politicalanimals.org.uk gives us an opportunity to demonstrate to people that we’re not just paying lip-service and actually play the game,” he added.
Ikram, who also manages the Leeds Rugby Foundation’s Connecting Communities Project, is conscious of Rugby League’s role and unique capability in bringing communities together.
He said “I never miss a chance through Rugby League, to try to bring communities together. It promises to be a great day of fun for such an important cause. The day begins from 11am at Cougar Park where there will be Rugby League skills and fun activities for children & young people planned for the local community however, we will be widening the scope of the event, through the involvement of MOSIAC, an organisation of whom Prince Charles is Patron.
“Also involved in bringing it altogether, are HAMARA which promotes healthy living amongst the South Asian Communities, the Makkah Mosque, St Lukes Cares and we are really delighted that the RFL will be providing a Super League Official. We will be bringing youngsters from the Leeds and Bradford area and I’m sure everyone will have a good time, get to know each other, and learn from each other.”
“A special mention must go out to our sponsors of the event Stradbrokes Solicitors and MAIDA Caterers who have kindly agreed to provide a buffet for the VIPs and dinner for the players from both teams taking part”.
“Hasan Pooya, Chair of the Pakistan Rugby League Association, will also be in attendance to watch the match” added Ikram
Cougars’ chair Gary Fawcett has committed Cougars to the event for two reasons. Firstly he thinks it’s a great idea in its own right and secondly because it highlights the club’s 2011 campaign to engage all the communities and cultures in the Keighley area.
He said; “Rugby League has always been a sport for everybody, yet there are communities and cultural groups that are under-represented in our sport, and importantly at our club. We want to break down whatever barriers, real, or perceived that are getting in the way. Our campaign is going to reach out across the social and cultural spectrum of the area, and this event is a statement of intent.”