Coventry to be in a league of its own with pioneering new rugby league programme
Coventry will soon be in a league of its own after receiving a £100,000 boost to fund a pioneering new rugby league project in the city.
Coventry Bears, based at Butts Park Arena, has been granted £99,452 by Sport England to launch Bears 5’s – a new community programme which aims to develop the game at every level by establishing five-a-side rugby league teams across the city.
The programme, which is unique to the city and the first project as part of Coventry’s seven- year strategy to become a City of Rugby, has been crafted with the aim of creating a gateway for young people who do not regularly participate in sport to experience the game and take it further.
The club’s league one team will be aiming to reach and engage with around 2,000 people as they work with local schools, youth groups and communities to deliver and coach sessions for children aged from 14 years, starting with touch rugby league for those who have never played, before leading onto full contact.
As well as targeting young people, Bears 5’s is also hoping to attract older players in the community through Bears Workplace five-a-side – aimed at over 18s looking for a social summer sport – which the club will be looking to partner with local businesses to develop.
Working in partnership with Coventry Sports Network, the club has identified three key focus areas and venues in Coventry, based on demographics, where the programme will be delivered as part of plans to establish each area as a hub of activity for rugby league.
Alan Robinson, managing director of Coventry Bears, said:
The funding boost is a landmark achievement for the club which demonstrates the demand for the game in the city.
The Bears 5’s programme will not just encourage more people to get active and participate in the game but will also establish for the first time a number of rugby league hubs in the city
Bears players are heavily involved in the programme and will be leading the delivery in the community giving participants the confidence to develop in the sport and have positive role models as their coaches.
This approach, combined with the accessibility of five-a-side teams which only require a small group of friends to play, we hope will lead to the creation of satellite rugby league clubs and junior teams all bringing together the city under the Coventry Bears umbrella.
The grant, which was secured by Coventry Sports Network and hosted by Coventry City Council as part of Sport England’s target to increase participation and develop the game among those aged 14 years plus, is one of just five to be awarded to local communities across the country.
The project is the first to get underway as part of of City of Rugby, an ambitious initiative which aims to establish Coventry as a leading city in the world for every level of the game by 2023 – rugby’s 200th anniversary.
Cllr Abdul Khan, Coventry City Council deputy leader, said:
Coventry is the only city in the Midlands to have a professional rugby league team and it is important we capitalise upon this unique position for the development of the game in the city.
This project, in line with the recently launched City of Rugby initiative and our sports strategy, will certainly develop and enhance the prestigious reputation the city holds for the sport.
Jo Drapier, community sport relationship manager at Sport England, said:
The opportunity to try a new sport for the first time is often all a person needs to catch the sporting bug.
The rugby league project in Coventry is a great way for the people of Coventry to try and engage with rugby league and have a quality sporting experience that will encourage them to stay involved.
The Bears 5’s programme follows the announcement of two mouth-watering Rugby League Internationals that will be staged at the Ricoh Arena on November 5 this year, the 4 Nations double-header will see England taking on Scotland at 5.30pm, followed by a repeat of the 2014 final when Australia face New Zealand at 8pm.
Tickets for the 4 Nations are on sale from 22 April and start from £20. To purchase, visit www.ricoharena.com.
Left to right: Cllr Khan (Coventry City Council), Tom Clift (Engage!,Coventry, which is co-ordinating City of Rugby), Jo Drapier (Sport England), Alan Robinson (Coventry Bears)