First Minister Mark Drakeford attended Cardiff West Community High School on Wednesday as Cardiff Rugby Community Foundation hosted a ‘Fit and Fed’ rugby camp.
The program helps keep children fit and active throughout the school holidays, while also alleviating the stress on families in disadvantaged areas by providing free breakfast and lunch for children on the day.
Wednesday was not the first camp of course, with 21 being run by Cardiff Rugby in August alone, and more than 200 this Summer in collaboration with the WRU and the professional clubs.
Community Foundation Manger Bronnie Jones said: “We’ve been running camps from Llandrindod Wells to Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan.
“It's essentially a free provision for children within our region to come and play some rugby in the summer holidays as well as doing our part to sort of tackle holiday hunger and provide the kids with some free food, both breakfast and lunch on the camp days.
The camps are intended to be a day of fun for the children, where they learn valuable sports skills whilst also getting them out of the house in a safe and enjoyable environment.
Bronnie continued: “It's all about fun and enjoyment. We're not just trying to target rugby club kids. We want to try and target a big audience, and we're doing a wide range of rugby skills just trying to keep the children active throughout the summer.
“We want this provision to be open to all. So by putting it within schools, we're able to target the correct kids. So that’s anyone that's going to benefit from Fit and Fed and getting that meal provision within the summer. So having that link with schools, they're able to direct us in the right place, and we can connect with new people.”
The camps are run in association with the WRU, who have service led agreements with the Community Foundations of the four professional clubs to deliver.
Geraint John, WRU Community Director, shared with us the key targets they’re looking for in a successful camp.
He: “The main aim of the camps is to support young children in some socially deprived areas to support children to become active, to become healthy, to run around for the day, but also to feed the children as well.
“We're conscious that the majority of the children that come to these camps would probably be having free school meals. They're not in school right now. So how do we help and support not only the young children, but the mothers and fathers and the parents and the guardians of these children as well.
“A successful camp is just to see the smiles on their faces. But also I think when they leave here and you talk to the parents and the children are telling them how much fun they've had and the great coaching they've had. If you look at how many coaches that are around here, the children get the attention that they deserve.”
As the summer programme came to an end, WRU interim chief executive Nigel Walker was joined by the First Minister in Ely, and he was impressed by what he saw.
He said: “It’s fantastic to see so many young children having a good time. When you hear them and talk to them, they’ve had a great morning and looking forward to the rest of the day.
“The school holidays can be a long period and challenging for families. The camp today offers something for children to do, they get well fed and it offers real enjoyment for young people as well.”