More and more families are finding themselves in a situation where paying for sport club memberships and after-school clubs is becoming a luxury. Although typically considered a well of area, there are pockets of Harrogate that would be considered as low-socio-economic areas. Within schools, there are also vulnerable pupils that would never get the chance to attend sports clubs and healthy activities. According to the YST, 35% of grassroots football families are struggling to afford clubs subs, 27% are not able to afford the required equipment and 33% have made financial sacrifices to afford memberships since the pandemic/cost of living crisis. This is a picture mirrored in rugby.
The goal of the project is to deliver 100 hours of free tag rugby sessions to local schools, directed solely at children that the partnering schools deem as vulnerable or unable to afford traditional sports clubs. Using ‘free school meal’ matrix a base system to identify the students, they will receive 1 hour of tag rugby coaching from a qualified Harrogate Rugby coach. Funding will be spent on hiring coaches so that between the months of September and Christmas, they can deliver sessions to 7 schools, impacting up to 100 individual children and families.
Led by the clubs Community Development Officer, Harrogate Rugby club has had experience in delivering school outreach programs in the local area since mid-2022. Successfully providing sessions to over 100 children across 6 junior schools, the club has developed a program that helps engage young children and provides them with a safe/fun environment to enjoy being active. All primary schools that took part in the program were also invited to a ‘tag-rugby festival’ where children were able to play at Harrogate Rugby Clubs ground against other schools. Harrogate Rugby Club is the only rugby union club in the area that has taken the action of appointing a Community Development Officer’ to ensure that projects like this are successful and meet the current needs of the community.
This project has two primary beneficiaries. Firstly, the children that will take part in the sessions. These children will be able to take part in an activity that increases physical activity and supports positive mental health development.
The second primary beneficiary from this project is the schools. Being able to provide schools with this service for free, a service they would usually have to pay for themselves or pass on the cost to parents, allows them to direct funding to other needs or enhance their sports provision across the whole school.
We are expecting to see, of the 100 children that participate in the project, 95% of them will report having enjoyed the session, and enjoyed being active for an additional hour per week than normal. We would also expect schools to report that participation in the project has led to the higher overall well-being of each individual child, potentially demonstrated by increased school attendance or a reduction in poor classroom behaviour.