The Future Blues development scheme was launched to an audience of representatives of the five unitary authorities in the region, plus clubs, schools and the media at Cardiff Arms Park on Tuesday 22nd November.
The Future Blues will replace the old Capital Rugby scheme that has been running since 1998. With the growth of the Cardiff Blues, the new Future Blues scheme will encompass Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, South Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil local authorities that make up the Cardiff Blues region. It is a huge area, compromising a major share of the population of Wales and thousands of potential players and supporters.
The Future Blues comprises 13 development officers, with each Development Officer within the five unitary authoritys having clearly defined areas and age grades to work with. With 56 Rugby Clubs, 58 secondary schools and 321 primary schools within the Blues Region the Development Officers are responsible for overseeing and delivering support and advice to the teachers and club coaches as well as providing hands-on coaching to the pupils. The outstanding work by our Development Officers can be seen at every Cardiff Blues home match, with half time Under 8 tag games being played between the junior sides within the region.
Speaking ahead of the launch Richard Hodges, Cardiff Blues Community and Coaching Development Manager said
Over the past nine months we have significantly evolved our community and coaching development programme which now provides the Blues with an unrivalled platform on which to build. The role of the development officer has evolved; they are facilitators more than deliverers as they get to know their patch and assist all the schools and clubs in their area. This is possible due to the employment of 14 new Blues Community Coaches. These are students at institutes of higher or further education who gain their vocational training in the schools and clubs within the Blues region. The target is 40 community coaches by the end of the current season.
The scheme would not be possible without the backing of Black Horse who will continue to be the principal sponsors while official partners Crownford, James and Jenkins, Brecon Carreg, Valleys Kids Initiative and Canterbury of New Zealand will also be backing the new scheme.
Ian OHare, Head of Corporate Communications, Black Horse said As the Principal sponsor of Cardiff Blues rugby development, we are please to see the programme going from strength to strength. Black Horse has been involved from the very beginning in supporting the rugby development programme of Cardiff RFC and now the Cardiff Blues. With our resources we have demonstrated our enthusiasm to promote the game of rugby to young people, in particular its values which we as a major employee in South Wales share.
Crownford are keen supporters of rugby, and have assisted schools and clubs in the Cynon Valley for a number of years. Their involvement with Cardiff Blues developed during the summer of 2004, when it was felt that the work they were doing in the Valleys, helping develop young players could also benefit the Blues. The support they give to young players offers a route to become Semi Professional Players at Pontypridd, Professional Players at Cardiff Blues and hopefully future Internationals, following in the footsteps of Cynon Valley heroes such as Dai Young, David Evans, John Bryant to name but a few.
Crownfords development work was strengthened when we worked in partnership with the Blues and WRU. We employed Dale McIntosh, a true valleys hero and rugby icon as a Development Officer. The benefit this appointment brought to the communities in RCT is vital and the link this has created is known as THE VEIN. Valleys players identified by Dale and his counterparts will have the opportunity to play regional rugby at U16s, U18s and U20s. The future looks bright for the Valleys players in the Blues Region. Commented Brad Williams Managing Director at Crownford.