October 31, 2008
The Rugby Football Union today launched its Street Zone Rugby initiative aimed at making a positive impact on the lives of teenagers in former coalfield areas in Stoke-on-Trent, Wigan and South Yorkshire.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) has provided �180,000 towards the three-year programme that will deliver rugby activities, coaching and leadership opportunities for 14-18 year-olds in the three areas.
The programme will be delivered by three new Community Rugby Coaches (CRCs) funded by the CRT. George Glenn is the CRC for Stoke, Mark Devine in Wigan and Olly Dixon has been appointed in the Dearne Valley area of Yorkshire.
The project is aligned with the ideals of the CRT to promote the social and economic regeneration of these areas with the positive experiences that sport, and Rugby Union in particular, can offer.
Launched at Trentham RFC in the Potteries, during a half-term holiday training camp led by Glenn, the Street Zone Rugby initiative was warmly greeted by Newcastle-under-Lyme MP Paul Farrelly and Stoke-on-Trent South MP Robert Flello.
Farrelly, the secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, has a 31-year association with the Trentham club and welcomed the way the scheme would bind clubs and communities together more closely.
"One of the great things about this initiative is that clubs like this one can get involved," said Farrelly.
"Because we're in a former coalfield area we can benefit from the association with partners like the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and it's good to see this extra funding coming into community sport. With their help we can get more involved with the local community and bring rugby alive for more young people.
"Some great work is being done to transform the image of the game and after a period of retrenchment, rugby has grown considerably since England's success in the World Cup in 2003. In schools and in clubs rugby is enjoying a renaissance and it's great to see the game continuing to bring in more young people.
"The RFU clearly has a pivotal role to play in this, making sure clubs like Trentham can tap into the funding that's available so everyone can do their best to bring more kids into the game."
Suzanne Clarke, the regional programme manager for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, stressed the benefits for teenagers taking part in playing and coaching rugby to develop teamship and leadership skills.
"It's widely recognised that sport has a big role to play in raising attainment levels of young people by boosting their health, well-being and sense of self-esteem," said Clarke.
"There's no doubt that this initiative will help young peoples' development considerably in the three areas that the project is taking place."