Over 2,500 primary school children in Ospreylia have benefited from in-school contact with the region so far this season, the Community Rugby team revealed today.
The team welcomed three new Participation Officers at the end of 2011 who were tasked with increasing the number of primary school children playing rugby, with an additional full-time Community Coach joining the existing team of Development Officers to spread the rugby gospel across the region.
The new additions have allowed the Ospreys to extend their reach into the local community, with increased schools activity aimed at driving interest in rugby among younger Ospreylians.
WRU/Ospreys Regional Development Manager Ben Rose, said that there has been a concerted drive to increase rugby participation in primary schools:
“With the appointments earlier this season we have been able to make a huge increase in the level of activity that we are involved in across the region, with a number of new initiatives aimed at growing the game within Ospreylia and hopefully inspiring the next generation of rugby players and fans.
“It’s important to recognise the hard work that is being done by the Community team, including our longstanding Player and Coach Development Officers, who are our ambassadors out and about in the many communities that make up Ospreylia.
“By working closely with each other, with the schools and clubs in the region and with the Ospreys players, coaches and management, they can drive interest in rugby with the obvious benefits of not only a larger playing base, but also, a generation of rugby supporters who are wholeheartedly behind the Ospreys and want to be part of what we are trying to do here.”
The figures revealed today show that in addition to the 2,500+ children who were visited in school up to the end of January by community coaches, more than 30 of the schools have received player appearances, with dozens more lined up between now and the end of the season.
50 per cent of primary schools in the region have participated in specially organised rugby festivals designed to generate interest in playing the game, with 360 new players so far introduced to their local community clubs, boosting player numbers.
The drive to promote the game is continuing into secondary schools as well, with the Community Rugby team targeting visits to 80 per cent of such establishments during the current academic year, a figure they are well on course to achieving. Player Development Officers working in the three unitary authority areas are aiming to not only increase player numbers at these ages, but also, to improve skill levels. 28 secondary schools festivals have been hosted so far this season across the region at the various ages, each featuring an average of seven teams, with over 100 players involved per festival.
In addition the region’s commitment to development has extended beyond just playing talent with the Coach Development team, officially the best in Wales according the national awarding body 1st4sport Qualifications, again running an extensive programme of activity that has reached 198 active coaches across the region, helping to ensure that there are better qualified coaches working within all clubs in Ospreylia, making for better players.
Andrew Hore, Chief Operations Officer, added:
“While most people looking at the Ospreys focus on first team affairs, there is so much more being done week in, week out, to ensure the long term sustainability of rugby in the region that tends to get overlooked or ignored.
“Our Community Rugby team are working hard to increase player and supporter numbers, and to ensure that coaches in the game at all levels are better qualified to improve playing skills in the region. Better coaches equals better players, with the obvious benefits that brings.
“It’s all too easy to knock, but when you look at the numbers of people we are reaching and influencing, you will see that we are working hard to ensure a bright future for the game in Ospreylia.”