A group of Maesteg school children participating in the Princes Trust XL Club scheme spent a day at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport recently, where they had the chance to meet up with some of their Ospreys heroes.
The children, all pupils of Maesteg Comprehensive School, took part in tag rugby sessions with Ospreys Coach Education Development Officer, Dan Owens, before meeting the full Ospreys squad for a Question and Answer session where they discussed the project and the experience that the youngsters have gained, before taking part in a quick game session led by the pupils.
The pupils, who have all undertaken a WRU Tag Award with Dan as part of the scheme, were then presented with their Tag Award certificates by Steve Tandy and Ian Evans, before being fortunate enough to watch a full Ospreys training session, watching from the stand as Scott Johnson, Sean Holley and Jonathan Humphreys put their players through their paces.
Around 1000 XL Clubs across the UK help young people who are facing difficulties at school, including those at risk of exclusion. They operate in schools on a two year programme with between 12 and 15 members, meeting for at least three hours a week and, guided by an XL Club Adviser, club members are encouraged to work together to achieve goals relating to their education, training and future lives.
XL Clubs work towards The Prince’s Trust XL Award accredited by ASDAN, which gives club members an award in the ‘Wider Key Skills’ of Problem Solving, Working with Others and Improving Own Learning, as well as recognising achievement in five key areas including citizenship and entrepreneurship. Ultimately, the aims of XL Club scheme is to enable participants to improve confidence and self-esteem, increase attendance and motivation and improve their chances of completing compulsory schooling, increase the number of qualifications attempted, enhance citizenship and community awareness and improve social skills and behaviour in schools.
The Maesteg youngsters have spent the last six weeks working with Dan Owens, who has been attending the school to host sessions as they worked towards completing the Tag Award, and Dan said:
"It's been great to work with these youngsters and seeing them really develop over the course. They've grown in confidence and really come on strongly in terms of their Tag skills and also, their ability to lead a group. The icing on the cake for them was to attend Llandarcy and meet the squad, and in particular, to watch the training session.
"The XL Club is a fantastic project which is operated by the Princes Trust, allowing teenagers to really develop and grow their self esteem and confidence, and the Ospreys Community Rugby Development department is delighted to be able to assist in this way. The work that the Maesteg Comprehensive pupils have done with us is a great example of the ways in which we can really help to make a difference in the community, while helping to develop playing and coaching numbers in the region."
Jan Clarke from Maesteg Comprehensive School, said:
"From my point of view I can honestly say it's been one of the best projects I've ever been involved with in school. These young people have responded so well, and that's due to your organisation and delivery skills. To see them working so well together, learning about themselves and more importantly clearly enjoying the experience, is marvellous. I'm delighted we were given this opportunity."
Comments from some of the children who have taken part in the project:
'It's been really good. We've learned some skills and it's good to do something physical.'
'I'm glad we've been involved with Dan and the Ospreys - everyone looks up to the Ospreys because they are a big team.'
'I've really enjoyed it. I've learned more from Dan than I do in class.'