CHILDREN with behavioural challenges and disabilities in Coventry are to give rugby a ‘try’ as part of a new pilot programme launched by Engage! Coventry and Coventry Rugby Club.
More than 80 children from four special schools in the city are taking part in weekly rugby coaching which aims to teach basic skills such as passing, catching and evasion as well as improving spatial awareness and hand-eye co-ordination.
At the end of the 12-week programme, the Year Seven pupils will get the opportunity to show off their skills at a rugby festival on Thursday, February 12.
They will also be invited to be guests of honour and take part in the half-time parade at Coventry Rugby Club’s home game against Esher Rugby Club on Saturday, February 20 at Butts Park Arena, Coventry.
Two teachers from each school will also receive training to allow rugby-based activities to continue as part of the school’s PE curriculum.
Schools taking part in the programme include Castle Wood School in Deedmore Road, Corley Centre in Church Lane, Sherbourne Fields School in Rowington Close and Woodfield School in Hawthorn Lane.
Matt Price, of Coventry Rugby Club, said: “It is vital that we continue to extend the reach of this great game and inspire people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to take part.
“This exciting new rugby initiative caters for children who may have previously been excluded from participating in organised sport due to their disability.
“They will receive up to two hours of rugby coaching, delivered by Coventry Rugby Club, every week with the activities designed not only to teach basic rugby skills and improve co-ordination but also teach the core values of the game.
“The schoolchildren will also get the opportunity to watch professional rugby in action as guests of honour at one of our home matches, we feel this is important for encapsulating the spirit of the game, providing the children with positive sporting role models.”
The initiative has been launched as part of an eight-year strategy to establish Coventry as a City of Rugby, driving up participation across all age ranges and at every level by 2023.
The initiative will be led by a City of Rugby steering group which brings together local sporting bodies, education providers and other leading figures. Educational rugby programme Engage! Coventry will lead the strategic co-ordination within the steering group working with the RFU and RFL and all key stakeholders.
Tom Clift, programme manager of Engage! Coventry, said: “We are delighted to see the launch of this new pilot scheme, working in partnership with Coventry Rugby Club, which is committed to making rugby more accessible to those with behavioural needs and disabilities.
“It is important for children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to have access to high-quality rugby coaching which can not only improve their basic sporting skills but also increase their confidence, health and well-being.
“We will also be instilling the sports core values; teamwork, integrity, discipline, respect and enjoyment, which participants can apply to activities both on and off the field.
“It is also really important to ensure the continuation of the game within schools after the pilot programme is finished which is why we will be up-skilling two teachers at each school so that they will be qualified to coach rugby activities long into the future.”