A new partnership led by Newcastle Rugby Foundation is looking to help get more North East children into rugby.
Launching this month [Jan 2024], Schools Connections will see schoolchildren given the opportunity to become pitch-side mascots for Newcastle Falcons games at Kingston Park.
Available to schools across the North East, participating schools will also receive opportunities such as participating in tag rugby coaching sessions, taster days and receiving school visits from players.
The programme will also see Falcons Community host tag rugby tournaments for schools, overseen and organised by professional coaches and players to help get more young people playing and interested in the sport.
Delivered in partnership with teacher recruitment specialist, AK Teaching, the initiative builds on the many recent successes of the Newcastle Rugby Foundation, the club’s official charity.
Established in 2005, the foundation works with over 15,000 people across the North East and Cumbria, helping activate positive change in young people and those from the most disadvantaged of backgrounds.
Melanie Magee, head of Newcastle Rugby Foundation, said: “We are delighted to welcome AK Teaching on board as supporters of our Schools Connections programme.
“Newcastle Rugby Foundation strive to make rugby the positive difference that changes lives for good, and the backing of such a community-minded company to enable more activity in our region is invaluable.
“We look forward to watching young people in our region flourish as a result.”
Sport England raised concerns last month after a survey revealed fewer than half of British children are taking part in the recommended amount of physical activity.
The Active Lives Children and Young People report revealed that 47 per cent of young people are taking part for an average of 60 minutes a day, with data from the 2022/23 academic year remaining stable from the previous 12 months. A further 22.8 per cent are rated as ‘fairly active’ while 30.2 per cent are categorised as ‘less active’ with less than 30 minutes a day on average.
AK Teaching – through its partnerships with Sunderland AFC, local schools and charities – has been one of a number of North East organisations trying to reverse this worrying trend over recent years, and it is hopeful that this latest initiative will go a long way to helping get more children into the game.
Kallie Smith, Assistant Branch Manager at AK Teaching, said: “Providing opportunities for young people to get into sport is something we’re incredibly passionate about at AK Teaching, so we are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Newcastle Rugby Foundation to deliver the Schools Connections programme.
“Participation in team sports is key to not only keeping them mentally and physically healthy, but also giving them valuable life skills and keeping children off the streets, which is why programmes like this, which break down the barriers for children to get into sport, are so important.
“It really will provide the children involved with memories to last a lifetime, so we’d encourage any schools interested in getting their pupils involved to get in touch and book their flag bearing days before it’s too late.”
The Schools Connections programme will run throughout 2024, however, places are limited, therefore schools are encouraged to contact AK Teaching quickly to avoid missing out at Kallie.firstname.lastname@example.org