'TACKLE' - the first-ever joint community rugby initiative between the four professional teams in Wales has been launched (today Weds 19th October) bringing an inspiring new rugby education programme to young people in Communities First areas. Partners in the project were joined by Wales' star rugby internationals Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets) and Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), for the launch at Aberdare Community School.
Funded by BT Sport’s charitable initiative The Supporters Club the ground-breaking joint project will see the four professional teams in Wales work together with Pro Rugby Wales to deliver an innovative and comprehensive programme where rugby and education work hand-in-hand.
The investment in community activity further builds upon BT’s significant partnership and support of all four Welsh rugby regions as main sponsor since 2014.
TACKLE is The Supporters Club key sports engagement initiative in Wales as part of its aim to create a better future for young people facing incredibly tough challenges.
The Supporters Club uses donations from BT Sport customers to invest in projects in the UK and worldwide, selected in partnership with Comic Relief. Across the last three years The Supporters Club has raised over £6 million for more than 40 projects both UK and worldwide project – supporting 20,000 people.
TACKLE is being delivered in partnership by the community teams at the Ospreys, Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons and Cardiff Blues and starts this month (October 2016) - taking popular inflatable ‘cage rugby’ sessions to young people in Communities First areas in Wales combining fun, action-packed rugby sessions with education pathways and mentoring sessions.
Funding has been secured for two years and will initially focus on working with young people aged 14-16 where drop-out rates from sport are at their highest in Wales. TACKLE will link with education and careers partner, Careers Wales, to help disaffected young people with clear education and personal development options; helping improve self-confidence, school attainment and employability skills.
TACKLE will bring a format of rugby into the heart of communities that is accessible, relevant and challenging for teenagers, both male and female and of all abilities including those who have never played before. The cage rugby sessions will be run by four newly appointed TACKLE officers – one at each of the four professional club dedicated to the delivery of TACKLE. Sessions can be held in a wide variety of locations from school playing fields, to community parks, sports and community centres -bringing rugby closer to hard-to-reach communities.
Mark Davies, Chief Executive of Pro Rugby Wales which represents the four Welsh professional teams said: “This is an inspiring new programme which will see our four rugby regions working together collaboratively for the first time with rugby as the catalyst to engage, inspire and motivate young people in Wales helping them seize greater opportunities and a better life.
“For the majority of us in the game, this is what working in rugby is all about – linking young people to the values and enjoyment of sport; we have some remarkable rugby role models in our game that epitomise positive values and can be an inspiration to people of all ages, genders and abilities to reach their goals in life. This is about using the fun and enjoyment of rugby to reach young people and encourage them to re-enter education, training and learn new skills.
“TACKLE is not about numbers on a spreadsheet but real outcomes for young people in areas of Wales that need it the most – and we’ll look to expand this programme with the support and funding of like-minded partners in Wales– to increase and broaden the positive impact we can have by bringing together expertise and knowledge.”
Alwen Williams, Director BT Cymru Wales said: “The Supporters Club continues to build better lives for young people through sport, thanks to the millions of pounds BT Sport viewers have raised. TACKLE is an inspiring project and we look forward to helping support this fantastic programme through BT volunteering and mentoring in our local communities to help those young people in Wales that face difficult challenges.”
Careers Wales Chair Debra Williams said: “Working in partnership with The Supporters Club and Pro Rugby Wales will help us reach and inspire young people in the most deprived areas.
“At Careers Wales our objectives are to help strengthen young people’s employability skills; to increase their opportunities for employment by helping find suitable training or jobs and to provide effective careers guidance. Our educational workshops will cover a range of topics including self-awareness building, behaviours at work and productive communication; all invaluable skills helping create brighter futures”.
For more information please visit Pro Rugby Wales: www.prorugbywales.com; The Supporters Club: www.thesupportersclub.org; Careers Wales: www.careerswales.com