More than 100 schoolchildren from five local primary schools descended on the Ospreys' Llandarcy training bases on Friday to take part in the first Ospreys Schools Network Festival.
A new initiative linked to the recently launched Ospreys Schools Programme, the Schools Network Festival will be a regular event allowing children from schools participating in the programme coming together for a fun day of rugby at the home of the Ospreys.
In attendance at the first Festival were pupils from Blaenymaes, Gnoll, Gowerton, Penyrheol and Ysgol Gymraeg Gellionen, and they enjoyed rugby fun and games under the watchful eye of Ospreys/WRU Participation Officers.
The Schools Programme was unveiled at the Liberty Stadium last month at an event attended by Leighton Andrews AM, Minster for Education and Skills, along with representatives from supporting partners RWE npower renewables, Sony UK Technology Centre, Neath Port Talbot College, the WRU and the three unitary authorities of Ospreylia.
The unique programme has been developed in line with the national curriculum and covers a wide range of issues including personal welfare and self esteem, the benefits of teamwork and cooperation, collective global environmental responsibility and online safety, as well as promoting a healthy active lifestyle and, of course, rugby. The participating schools get weekly visits from a Participation Officer for rugby development sessions, while teaching staff and Ospreys pupils get a specially created handbook to work through ahead of the undoubted highlight, an interactive tour of the Liberty Stadium.
To bring everything together, they are then invited to take part in the Schools Network Festival, with pupils encouraged to mix with those from other schools, pairing up to become pen friends and sharing their Ospreys experiences. The schools also get the chance to create a special Ospreys notice board, allowing the pupils to stay in touch with their region and support the cause.
Keith Collins, Ospreys Schools Coordinator, said:
“This is the first of the Schools Network Festivals following last months launch event and we hope to see thousands of pupils taking part over the course of the academic year.
“The target if for us to actively engage with over 3,000 year five and six pupils across 60 primary schools in the region during the first year of the programme and we are already making massive inroads into the total.”
Andrew Hore, Chief Operations Officer, added:
“It’s wonderful to see so many children at Llandarcy on a training day, enjoying themselves in our environment and taking away positive memories of the Ospreys that will hopefully inspire them to become a lifelong supporter.
“The programme aims to leave a lasting community legacy - helping improve not only rugby participation numbers but also numeracy and literacy, understanding healthy living, and how to look after the planet – and we are incredibly excited about the impact that this programme will have in the communities of Ospreylia.”