Tom Sloane

Q&A with Tom Sloane - Ospreys in the Community

We sat down with Tom Sloane, Community Foundation Manager for Ospreys in the Community, for a catch up and to find out what OITC has been up to.


Can you explain to people who may be unfamiliar with Ospreys in the community who you are?

Set up in 2015, Ospreys in the Community is the charitable arm of Ospreys rugby.  We set it up to create a vibrant and sustainable community and harness the power of Ospreys rugby as a wider vehicle to connect people communities.


Can you tell us what you've been up to over the last few months?

We’ve had to bounce back with our recovery from COVID and we’ve really started to ramp up over the last few weeks. We’ve got a lot more staff in place now and we're just kind of starting to see the fruits of our labour.

Over the last couple of months, we've seen a lot of schools programmes being run. Our programme in partnership with Sony is working with 30 schools with STEM, literacy and numeracy work and we’re also utilising Ospreys players to help drive the curriculum in a more fun and engaging way.

We've launched a new Sporting Memories club recently at Aberavon Green Stars. Another great club locally and hopefully we can support them by getting more people through the doors.

And our new lottery funding, which we're very welcome for landed in February which has meant that the expansion of our tackle programme has gone from six schools to 15 schools in the last couple of months.


What’s coming up for OITC?

A big focus for us is how we’re going to be using sport to help with people’s mental health. Again, we talked about using sport, but sport tends to connect people and reach a little bit further and it's almost that soft approach to try and engage people in things that can help them.

Another focus will be around our charitable partners, Action for Children. And we were really grateful back in 2019 when Philtronics introduced us to them. Some of the work that we've been doing with Action for Children is supporting young people in primary schools and secondary schools with their mental health their coping strategies, helping to build resilience and trying to break down the stigma. We’ve also looked to facilitate a space where they are able to talk amongst themselves and gain that peer to peer support which is needed.  

We've also used that model for rugby clubs and over the last two years along with Public Health Wales, we've been working on how we play a positive part in men's mental health and suicide.

We’ve got 77 clubs within our region and we’ve been thinking about how we can use them as a solution to breaking that stigma down and playing a powerful part in a real serious agenda.


Any events that you have coming up?

In February we're going to be launching our sleep out again which we did back in 2019. It will be in partnership with Philtronics and will get people sleeping outside the stadium and getting cold and wet but raising money for a good cause.

We’re also really excited to launch our Ride to Rugby cycle to Paris and we’ll be looking to fill up 15 spaces. That will be a great trip and will help us raise some more money for OITC.


A lot of what you do involves activities outside of rugby, what’s the thought process behind this?

Yeah, so I think everyone thinks because we're Ospreys in the Community, it's very rugby based. Our strapline/mantra is More than Rugby. It’s great that we have rugby people here and we can utilise that to our strengths. And yes, we run rugby camps and we support in rugby clubs, but that that doesn't mean to say that we that's where we stop.

If people want to talk about football or cricket in our Sporting Memories groups, then we'll connect that.

We also think about how we link up again, with the wider community to make sure that we're servicing that and helping complement other sports as well. You know, we're always open to collaboration and co-creation of programmes and I think I think if we were just rugby, then we kind of miss the boat on what we're trying to achieve with connecting communities.


What part do the trustees play in OITC?

We are extremely lucky to have a group of trustees that are not only very highly qualified and skilled but are really proactive in supporting what we do and you know, really passionate about helping to drive Ospreys in the community.

We've got people from all different kinds of sectors, including health boards and education contributing to our wider goals. Even having finance experts on board help us to make sure that Ospreys in the Community is doing what it needs to do on the ground, whilst growing sustainably.