Rugby Fits The Bill In Ospreylia

The Ospreys have today unveiled details of an innovative new community initiative, which will see more than one hundred Police Community Support Officers and youth workers qualify as rugby coaches in a bid to tackle issues of social inclusion in the area

Ospreys & South Wales Police Team Up To Tackle Youth Offending

The Ospreys have today unveiled details of an innovative new community initiative, which will see more than one hundred Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and youth workers qualify as rugby coaches in its first year in a bid to tackle issues of social inclusion in the area.

The Ospreys Community Engagement Project was launched at a special event at the Liberty Stadium today (26 March), attended by WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis. The project will see the Ospreys and the WRU development officers in the Region teaming up with South Wales Police and the Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) in Swansea, Neath-Port Talbot and Bridgend to provide the appropriate personnel with rugby based coaching skills and qualifications that will enable them to foster links and create opportunities for hard-to-reach youngsters across the region.

The new initiative will allow the newly qualified coaches to utilise the skills and resources provided within this project to engage with targeted sectors in the community in a variety of ways. This can range from ad hoc contact with groups of bored youngsters, to a more structured system of games, event days or festivals. PCSOs and community workers will also work within the school system, helping to establish good relationships with local children at an early age. As well as offering opportunities to develop rugby skills, the initiative will allow PCSOs and youth workers to identify potential leaders amongst peer groups who can then be mentored to go into sports leadership courses, enhancing future employment prospects.

Tony Thomas, Welsh Rugby Union Development Officer working with the Ospreys Community team, is Project Manager for the new scheme. He said:

"The Ospreys are aware of our responsibilities to the communities across the region, and it is through initiatives such as the Ospreys Community Engagement Project that we are able to make a difference. What we are doing with this initiative is enabling PCSOs and other individuals who are working in the community to foster genuine relationships and create new opportunities for youngsters. The emphasis will be on the ethos of rugby itself, promoting teamwork, responsibility and respect, all of which are also important in everyday life. The initiative will provide PCSOs and youth workers who are on the front line with another tool to help make a difference in their communities.

A number of officers have already received the training to become rugby coaches thanks to the trial scheme last year, and now that funding has been secured to take it forward, I would anticipate that over a hundred PCSOs and youth workers will go through the system in the first year alone. The impact that they can have in their local communities is immeasurable, and it is easy to see hundreds, if not thousands, of youngsters in the region being given opportunities that previously wouldn't have existed."

WRU and Ospreys Community Rugby Development Officers will host UKCC coaching courses for PCSOs and youth workers across the region, where they will work towards attaining

either Tag Rugby or a Level 1 Coaching Certificate, depending on their individual competence. A trial run last year, with the support of South Wales Police, Swansea Youth Offending Team, and Positive Futures Bridgend, saw a group of PCSOs and youth workers undertake the course, all of who have now gone back to their communities armed with the necessary skills to create opportunities for youngsters across the region.

Ospreys Community Rugby Development Officers will assist with venues and volunteer support, and all newly qualified coaches will receive kit that will incorporate Ospreys branding to enhance engagement opportunities. Clear identification of individual PCSOs will also be included where relevant, in line with current legislation.

South Wales Police Citizen Focus and Neighbourhood Policing Project Lead, Chief Inspector Clive Perry said:

"This exciting coaching initiative represents a partnership approach to youth engagement and community enhancement through sport, with local neighbourhood officers and community partners working together. It is yet another partnership tool to further engage with local young persons, and complements the South Wales Police Neighbourhood Policing Programme.

It's important that the police and our partners constructively engage with young people. The coaching approach will strengthen engagement by our neighbourhood officers and will help reduce youth related anti-social behaviour."

WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said:

"This is a fantastic example of the way in which rugby can be used to benefit the community as a whole. Rugby is an integral part of our communities in Wales and has multiple benefits, from providing youngsters with positive leisure time to our Grand Slam stars inspiring the youth of today to achieve their full potential."

Roger Blyth, Ospreys Managing Director, added:

"Since our inception, the Ospreys have always declared a long term commitment to the many communities across the region. The Ospreys Community Engagement Project is another fantastic initiative that will have a positive impact on communities the length and breadth of Ospreylia.

Tony Thomas and his colleagues within the Ospreys Community Rugby Development team have worked extremely hard to see their idea come to fruition, and we are grateful to South Wales Police and npower renewables for their valuable assistance which is helping us to deliver the initiative. This scheme is a genuine investment in the youngsters of the region that provides them with an opportunity to improve not only their own lives, but also the communities where they live, and it is an initiative that everybody at the Ospreys is immensely proud of."